Wilton’s – the world’s oldest surviving grand musical hall – cropped up on the telly again recently, in the BBC’s Dancing on the Edge. This place, which still holds regular theatre performances and film nights, is an East London gem. Just off Cable Street in Tower Hamlets, Wilton’s Mahogony Bar was world famous among Victorian sailors and is still fully licensed and holds live music and comedy nights today.
Many of the music hall’s original features have survived and it’s in the midst of a multi-million pound restoration. Meanwhile, performances will continue throughout the year, including The Great Gatsby, which will run until March 23. If you don’t fancy a full performance but would like a poke around and to soak up the atmosphere, join one of the weekly guided tours and grab a few pints and some delicious home-made dinner from the bar. The food’s fantastic and really good value at about £5 a plate.
Me on a guided tour!
Wilton’s is one of my absolute favourite places in London. It was the first choice for drinks with workmates back when we moved to a newsroom in Wapping and was the saving grace after we we sadly left our old place in ‘civilisation’ near Liverpool Street. It’s hidden away near St Katherine Docks, just off East Smithfield, and near some other very East London pubs. With its exposed brickwork, distressed paint and woodwork, and occasional transvestite magicians roaming the bar, Wilton’s is a true haven in a neighbourhood better known for construction traffic, the DLR and News International – not where I worked, I hasten to add.