Old Dalston Theatre poster is saved for the nation as Museum of London steps in where Hackney hesitated

MOL16: Museum of London London Wall City 010117 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Left field: grey exterior of the museum, at left as you view picture, masks fine exhibitions

theatre16: Dalston Theatre poster (photocopy in hand) 251016 rescued by Jean Field © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
The poster turned down by Hackney
THE PEOPLE OF HACKNEY will be able to see a superb memento of the lost theatre of Dalston now that the Museum Of London has stepped in to house it. The Dalston Lane theatre was demolished by Hackney council for a property site.

The council’s archives declined the chance to house the poster, offered as a permanent loan, by its finder, Jean Field. She told Loving Dalston, however, that she would have been open to persuasion to make it a gift.

Her subsequent approach to the City-based museum was welcomed, although at time of writing it was unable to comment because its acquisitions procedure had not been completed.

The poster was found by Hackneyites Jean Field and her husband David in the seaside resort of Ostend, Belgium. They bought and imported to London the vivaciously drawn advertisement for the theatre.

The Hackney couple had hoped the art nouveau drawing, which measures 2.75m by 1.95m, could be safely housed in Hackney council archives.

Field told Loving Dalston: “I could have been persuaded to donate the poster but the archives person to whom I spoke was not interested. I think it’s an opportunity missed to have it available to Hackney people.”

Hackney council said that though Hackney Archives preserved and promoted other material about Dalston Theatre, it could not accept a loan of the poster because of “compliance with national archival collecting practices.

“Hackney Archives is keen to accept donations of materials, rather than permanent loans, to ensure effective use of public funds so that collections can be cared for and managed over the long term. Staff did look into how a reproduction of a poster so large could be made and displayed in the building.

“Unfortunately, after an initial discussion it was not possible to reach an agreement with the owner of the poster.”

Field commented that the archives had not got back to her about its final decision, despite having promised to do so.

Open Dalston founder Bill Parry-Davies said: “It’s brilliant that Jean Field has saved something rare and  beautiful from our cultural history and donated it to future generations.” The Hackney Society said: “At a time when our local borough archival resources are stretched to the limit, it’s good to see an interesting piece of exhibitable Hackney ephemera finding a better home in a local museum.”

The Museum of London was unable to comment until its acquisitions procedure had been completed.

David Altheer 161216 

* Backstory: How a rare Hackney relic was found 

FieldPuzzled: Jean Field at home in Hackney excited by news of imminent arrival of Dalston Theatre poster (photocopy in hand) 251016 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Jean Field at home with a photograph of the Dalston poster. Hackney declined her offer
* Main picture © Museum of London. All others © David.Altheer [at] gmail.com, and for sale for reproduction. Most photographs are available in bigger formats

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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