Legendary venue to reopen

Stand-up night for Woolwich Tramshed

The legendary Woolwich Tramshed, one of the original homes of alternative comedy, is to echo to the sound of laughter again.

The venue, which provided early gigs for the likes of Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall and Malcolm Hardee, closed for a decade in 1990.

Since reopening, it has offered performing arts lessons, but from next month it will be used as a regular stand-up venue once more when Throgmorton Comedy, which has run gigs at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley for the last five years, launches a monthy comedy night there.

In the late Seventies, the venue hosted a topical sketch show, Fundation, whose performers included the likes of Hale and Pace. But in 1979, as the Comedy Store opened, the venue was taken over by ‘a mad Welshman’ and became a home for a regular team of alternative cabaret performers.

Among them were Adrian Edmondson and Rik Mayall’s double-act 21st Century Coyote. Mayall once said: ‘Suddenly we were doing cabaret on our own in front of 400 people who wanted to see Fundation. We stuck at it for a couple of months because we thought our Equity cards might be in it.’

The late Malcolm Hardee also performed there in the early years, working on his Greatest Show On Legs act with Martin Soan, and at one point made the local paper when pensioners in the audience objected to his striptease routine.

Other comedians to have played early gigs there include Julian Clary – as the Joan Collins Fan Club – Paul Merton and Jerry Sadowitz.

The Tramshed was built in 1909 by the London County Council. After the trams ceased running in 1953, it was used as a factory for 20 years, reopening as an entertainment venue in the mid-Seventies. Other acts to have performed there include Acker Bilk, George Melly, and Max Wall.

The first new show at the venue is on February 28 and features Bob Mills and Ninia Benjamin.

Published: 28 Jan 2009

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