Albany Theatre

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The Albany
Albany Empire
Albany Theatre in Deptford.jpg
Albany Theatre \n
Location Deptford
London, SE14
United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°28′40″N0°01′39″W / 51.4777°N 0.0276°W / 51.4777; -0.0276 Coordinates: 51°28′40″N0°01′39″W / 51.4777°N 0.0276°W / 51.4777; -0.0276
Public transit National Rail logo.svg Deptford
National Rail logo.svg Overground roundel (no text).svg New Cross
Capacity 500
Opened1899 (original building)
Rebuilt1982 (new building)

The Albany is a multi-purpose arts centre in Deptford, south-east London.


Facilities include a flexible performance space holding up to 300 seated or 500 standing and a bar, two studio theatres, a performance cafe and rehearsal / meeting rooms. The Albany currently hosts a varied programme of events including music, spoken word, theatre, club nights, and children's shows. Several arts and community organisations are based at the Albany including spoken-word promoters Apples & Snakes and Heart n Soul, who provide opportunities for artists with learning disabilities.


The Albany was originally established as The Deptford Fund in 1894 as a philanthropical group aimed at assisting the local community that had suffered since the closure of the dock in 1869. The fund took on a physical home when the purpose-built 'Albany Institute' was opened in 1899 by its namesake, the Duchess of Albany. A daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria, the Duchess was an active patron of the Deptford Fund - a project founded to help women secure employment away from the dangerous local trades in the slaughterhouses. The Fund soon expanded its scope and the institute was built to house the various activities that supported and involved a local population with high levels of poverty and deprivation.

It was not until the early 1970s that a touring theatre company 'The Combination' became resident at the Albany and the organisation began to focus on fusion between community work and the arts.

In the 1970s it hosted fifteen Rock Against Racism gigs and Dire Straits performed there 2 July 1978. On 14 July 1978, the Albany's theatre, then called "Albany Empire", was destroyed by fire, the cause of which has never been established. Plans were put in place for a new purpose-built building incorporating theatre spaces, a cafe, community rooms and offices. This new building on Douglas Way was officially opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1982. [1]

During the 1980s the Albany hosted performances by many well-known artists, including Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, [2] Julian Clary, Courtney Pine and the Jazz Warriors. The building was also home to many social, creative and community organisations.

Cuts in public funding in the 1990s meant the arts programme had to be scaled back. However, in 2001 the Royal National Theatre's Art of Regeneration initiative invested heavily in the organisation, enabling refurbishment of the building by Sprunt Architects [3] to be completed and the re-establishment of a programme of performances.

Charles Hayward, an experimental rock musician, organised a series of performances at the theatre under the name "Accidents + Emergencies". [4]

The Albany continues to develop its artistic programme with a focus on topical and community focused work. It also runs a number of initiatives, such as the Meet Me at the Albany campaign that aims to provide activity groups and performance opportunities for the local elderly community.

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  1. "Albany History". Albany Theatre. Archived from the original on 28 November 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  2. Rampton, James (20 September 1997). "INTERVIEW : VIC REEVES & BOB MORTIMER: Fighting for a laugh - Life & Style - The Independent". The Independent. London. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  3. "Albany Theatre case study" (PDF). Sprunt. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  4. Baxter, Ed (7 February 2002). "Obituary: Gareth Williams". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 "Squeeze Tour History Part II: "The New Wave Years" (1978-1982)". squeeze fan cite. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  6. "Dire Straits tour 1978". Tours. Canada: Mark Knopfler official site. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2010.