Globe Theatre

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There appears to have been at least four venues by this name in South Africa.

1 The short-lived Globe Theatre Fox Street, Johannesburg (June to September 1889)=

2 The Globe Theatre Fox Street, Johannesburg (1891-1894)

2 The Globe Theatre Germiston (circa 1914)

3 The Globe Theatre at Gold Reef City (

The Globe Theatre Fox Street, Johannesburg (June to September, 1889)


A brick structure originally opened as the Globe Theatre on 24 June 1889 in 47/49 Fox Street, Johannesburg. This theatre was destroyed in a fire on 7 September 1889 after three seasons.


DAMAGE OF £10,000.





Within the short space of two hours last night the Globe Theatre was reduced by fire from an imposing edifice to a smouldering ruin.

Shortly after seven when the lamps in the Globe Theatre had just been lit the members of Miss Beddard's Company were rehearsing their parts, in War to the Knife, which was going to be put on the boards, when all of a sudden the paraffin lamp suspends above the proscenium came down with a crash scattering the oil far and wide, which getting ablaze shot the flame up into the curtain.

None of the audience were yet assembled and the members of the Company, out of their wits at the conflagration, made for the doors, shouting Fire! Fire! at the pitch of their voices.

Col. Ferreira, the genial old gentleman so well-known in Town, whose house faces the dressing rooms of the Theatre, was sitting on his stoep when a man rushed out by a side door raising the alarm of fire.

Thinking it was a practical joke on the part of someone, he took no heed beyond shouting out "catch him."

Immediately afterwards he perceived a dense volume of smoke issuing from the rear of the building and could distinguish the glare of flame inside.


Without a moment's intermission he rushed into the building, and found there but one individual, a Mr MacIntyre, and both set to at once trying all they could to get the flame under.

At this pitch only the curtains and the first few rows of seats were alight, and both Colonel Ferreira and Mr MacIntyre are convinced that, had they half-a-dozen active men with them, the catastrophe would have been averted.

A crowd had already gathered in the street outside, but such cowards were they that none responded to the call of Colonel Ferreira to give them aid.

Beaten back and half-suffocated by the dense clouds of smoke, these two brave men had to give way for a moment, but only for a moment, with hand¬kerchiefs wrapped around their faces, they advanced again to the War to the Knife which was soon to be played by the flames in a terrible way.

Col. Ferreira turned on the theatre hose and got some water to play on the flames, but the tarpaulins and varnish and paint of the scenery caught fire, and half-a-dozen hoses would have been required to gain mastery over it.


Their endeavours were useless; they saw that the building must go, and the two men now concentrated their efforts on saving the effects.

Dressing rooms were emptied, and everything which could be transported was taken out of what was fast becoming a fiery furnace.

In the meantime, the police came up under Lieut. Hough and Sergt. Nelson, and rendered material assistance in preventing the mob from committing wholesale destruction.

Quite a struggle took place between the police and the crowd at the doors of the Theatre, which the latter wanted to batter down to see the fun, utterly regardless of the fact that with the doors and windows open the flames would be fanned to a height which would render all effort to suppress it of no avail.

The stately building was doomed; the volume of smoke issuing from the upper windows was now replaced by a lurid column of flame, which fed by the light combustible matter which was so plentiful inside, sent the flames up to the beams.

They, becoming consumed, sent up a shower of sparks which was scattered broadcast over the surrounding roofs and carried off over the town by the pretty fresh breeze then blowing.

The fire engine and hose were sent for but did not appear on the scene as, with no water in the neighbourhood, they would have been of very little use.

With Col. Ferreira as their leader, a body of police and civilians now cleared the place of everything valuable.

The theatre buffet was cleaned out in about as much time as it takes to describe it, and then attention was bestowed on the buildings round about.

The one most in danger was evidently the Argyle Hotel, an iron building adjoining the theatre, and on this, the crowd, wild with excitement, fell.

As in the case of the theatre buffet, eager hands transferred the contents to the streets, but in all probability the choice wines, etc., never got further.


The moveable effects being cleared out, the next set about pulling down the woodwork.

Doors and windows came out like magic, and with superhuman energy, the verandah was torn down in strips and scattered far and wide over the streets.

The crowd had assumed extraordinary proportions, the three streets between which the theatre stood were crowded to excess, and still, numbers were pouring down Marshall and Market Squares to view the conflagration.

Adventurous youths had climbed up on the roofs of the neighbouring houses to see all that way to be seen, while the police had their work cut out for them in keeping the people back from the front wall of the building, which seemed prepared at any moment to come over into the street.

The exposed woodwork of the surrounding houses was also carefully covered with bags which were kept constantly damp.


The spectators had not long to wait for the grand finale.

An ominous cracking noise was heard as the beams were eaten through by the tongues of flames, whole sheets of iron were shrivelled up as so much tin-foil, and through every pore and aperture jets of red flame shot; then the roof came down with a crash, sending up a display of sparks which would have rivalled the Crystal Palace illuminations in grandeur.

Doors and window frames had already long been consumed, and looking through these flame encircled orifices, an immense furnace of intense heat was visible beyond.

Near the doorway, the flames assumed hues of varying brilliancy, behind them was one volume of sparks, while where the stage once stood a broad yellow pillar of flame was raging and roaring as if dancing a paean of triumph over its victory in the War to the Knife.

Luckily for the safety of the surrounding houses, and luckily for the safety of the town, the breeze had quieted down, so that the sparks, after floating in the air a few moments, dropped back harmless and spent.

The fire had played itself out, the town was saved, and what was less than two hours before a stately edifice, in which hundreds nightly applauded the players after their hearts, was a heap of glowing ashes.


But to proceed to the cause.

How did that lamp fall all of a sudden, produce panic and cause this scene of desolation?

Various explanations were given, but the men who arrived first on the scene agree in stating that the chain by which the lamp was suspended getting suddenly heated caused the links to expand and the heavy weight of the lamp did the rest.

The conduct of Colonel Ferreira and Mr MacIntyre cannot be sufficiently commended.

Single-handed they dared what 50 men were too cowardly to lend their aid in.

No one, however, attributes more praise to the Colonel than his fellow volunteer, who says that he saw Col Ferreira lead his men to perilous attacks in the Basuto war, but never had he seen such a plucky act as the way in which the Colonel attacked the fire.

Tears of anger came to the eyes of the speaker when he related how they called for assistance and received none, when the building might have been saved by but six volunteers.


A Theatre entirely gutted – such an occurrence is not usually accompanied by loss and this case formed no exception.

The actual building cost the Syndicate who own the theatre £7,500, with the costs of stands this amounts to £8,400, and with the furniture which was imported from America, a no less sum of £9,000.

The syndicate at first comprised a large number of members, but these were gradually bought out, so that the building now belonged to two persons, the largest holder residing in Pretoria.

Shortly after its erection the building was insured in the Northern Insurance Company; but they, learning that paraffin oil, not gas was used for lighting, and that in large quantities, cancelled the insurance.

The owners have thus to bear the entire loss.

Col. Ferreira had an interest in the Theatre when it was erected; but had since sold out.

His gallant attempt thus reflects more credit on him.


A body which calls for special attention was the police.

Sergt, O'Halloran was standing outside the barracks when he heard a cry of fire, and saw a short distance off a cloud of smoke.

Giving the alarm, the whole force was despatched to the scene and rendered all service in their power to keep back the crowd out of harm’s way and guarding the goods taken so unceremoniously from the various houses.

Sergt. Nelson also records with pleasure the aid rendered by several civilians, among whom were Messrs. Flynn and Wright.

Shortly after the commencement of the fire, Capt Von Brandis, Commandant Schutte and Lieut Heugh, appeared on the scene, and took an active part.

From the slopes of the hills surrounding the Town the sight was grand.

First a volume of smoke rolled up and assuming the form of a white cloud floated over in the direction of Pretoria.

Then a jet of flame burst forth as if a large arc electric light had been lit on the dome of Fillis Circus.

Soon, however, this increased to a vast column of fire as the flames gained the ascendency.

Then they decreased and sinking lower and lower left but a faint glow, as the light of the Globe was extinguished.

Miss Beddard, the Lessee and Manageress is truly unfortunate.

It was not so long ago that she complained bitterly of the treatment she had received in regard to the House she had to play in.

Last week she arrived from Kimberley and on the vacation by the Perkins Company took possession of the Globe Theatre, looking forward to a long and prosperous season.

That season opened well, good pieces were put on and several of the Shakespeare plays were being rehearsed, - when the catastrophe of last night occurred.

It is said that dresses and other effects have, however, fortunately, been saved, there is stored up in Col. Ferreir’s house quite a collection of costumes, comic and serious.

Interview With Miss Beddard.

Miss Beddard was, as may well be imagined, well nigh overwhelmed with grief at the untimely destruction of the Theatre.

During the evening a representative of The Star called on the fair lessee and manageress at her Chambers in Percy Buildings.

Miss Boddard was surrounded by members of her Company, all of whom were endeavouring to impart a little of their own assumed cheerfulness.

The lady, however, bore up remarkably well.

The catastrophe, remarked Miss Boddard in reply to our representative has come at a very inopportune time.

I have been in possession of the theatre scarcely a week, during which time, owing to my luggage not having arrived from Kimberley, I have been compelled to keep the place going with very small pieces.

Your loss is not then so great as it might have been?

Oh! Everything is lost.

The luggage arrived in town this very day, and I had the whole taken to the Theatre so that it might be ready for use.

I was only congratulating myself this afternoon on the fact that the goods had arrived two days earlier than the contact time, and that my promise of a bonus had had such a good effect on the transport rider.

But it has all gone.

You saved nothing?

Absolutely nothing, except the few (unclear) you see here; but which were not in the Theatre.

You had recently made considerable additions to your scenery?

Yes. Mr. Broadbridge, the scenic artist recently from England, had executed seven lovely act drops - quite works of art, and they all perished.

Moreover, all the paints and colours I brought with me from England were also included in the burning mass.

Cannot you replace these?


If I offered a bank, I could not replace them without sending to England.

This grieves me more than anything else.

Other losses can be made good; but it will take months to get another supply of costumes and colour from England.

What are your intentions regarding the future?

Oh! I am sure I shall get some other place in town.

My manager, Mr Weston, has already moved in the matter, and so many kind friends have promised to assist me in this respect, that I do not think I shall have reason to leave the town yet.

"No,” chimed in several of the Company, “and what is more we won't have any salaries."

In June 1892 it was reopened as The Globe, but gradually degenerated to become a second-rate music hall and eventually closed.

On the 1st December 1894 it once more re-opened, but now known as the Empire Palace of Varieties.

Contribution to South African Theatre

1889: Falka, the comic opera, was staged at the Globe Theatre. Produced by Mr Perkins of The Edgar Perkins Lyric Opera Company. Starring Frank Wheeler as Governor Folback, Amy Fenton as Falka, the convent girl, R.S. Gregg as Falka's student lover, Mr Paxton as Boleslas, the brigand chief, Minnie Rayner played the part of Edwige, the fiery Gipsey girl and sister of the brigand chief, Mr H Leighton as Tancred, nephew of Governor Folback, Miss E Bankhardt as Janotha. James Hyde was the musical director.


Special undated 1989 commemorative newspaper which consisted of various articles originally printed by The Star in the course of 1889. These particular articles about the fire were not dated but were probably printed on September 8, as it was the day after the fire.

Reference on p.124 of Fletcher, 1994

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The Globe Theatre, Johannesburg 1891-1894

The venue

In late 1891 or early 1892, the foundations of the original Globe Theatre were extended to make place for an 800 seater theatre. The frontage was extended from Commissioner Street to Fox Street, the original facade updated and made more ornate, a canopy added over the entrance to shelter visitors. The interior was also redone to include a 40-light chandelier.

Leased by the Globe Theatrical Syndicate in in 1892, it was opened on the 8th June of 1892 with the Lyric Opera Company. They presented shows until May 1894, when the theatre was closed for a period, during negotiations for a change in the ownership. In July 1894, the Empire Theatres Company (also known as Empire Theatres S. A. Limited) took over the lease of the Globe Theatre, and renamed it the Empire Palace of Varieties (formally opened on 1 December 1894, with a programme of British variety artists, including W. C. Fields, Marie Lloyd, and Kate Harvey).


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The Globe Theatre Germiston (circa 1914)

The venue

In 1914 the architect Percy Rogers Cooke formed The Germiston Players, an amateur theatrical company and in 1916 contacted I.W. Schlesinger, the Director of African Consolidated Theatres Ltd, in an attempt to secure The Globe in Germiston for the company.


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The Globe Theatre, Gold Reef City (0)

The venue

The Globe Theatre is a venue that offers a variety of entertaining musical variety shows and comedy in an intimate setting, creating an atmosphere of ‘dinner theatre’ - a long forgotten theatre experience of yesteryear.

A replica of he original theatre erected at Gold Reef City, the original Globe Theatre opened in the early 1890’s. It hosted the first moving pictures in South Africa, and later metamorphosized into a beautiful host to plays, musical and cabarets.

The cocktail-style seating, full-service bar and a menu of light dishes ensures a fantastic theatre experience for the discerning theatre-goer.


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