About Edward Tyrrell Smith, Admiral
Edward Tyrrell Smith
Born August 26th, 1804 ; eldest son of Admiral E. T. Smith. Was appointed midshipman in Lord Cochrane's ship, but motherly affection fetched him back the night before the ship sailed. Was at first in the Metropolitan Constabulary, and subsequently an auctioneer. He was essentially a man given to speculation. The first of his schemes was connected with what used to be Crockford's gambling-house at the corner of St. James's Street, which he was instrumental in turning into a fashionable restaurant known as the Wellington. He had to do with Vauxhall Gardens ; but his connection with theatres may be said to have begun in 1850, when he took the Marylebone, which he held for two years, and then, most rashly as some thought, entered on the lesseeship of Drury Lane Theatre. The house was in dreadfully bad odour and had been in the market for a considerable time, and was thought to be such a bad speculation that the ground lessee, the Duke of Bedford, actually thought of pulling it down. On December 27th, 1852, he opened the house with Uncle Tom's Cabin and Harlequin Hudibras; or, The Droll Days of the Merry Monarch (E. L. B.'s pantomime), and introduced morning performances. He spared no expense in engaging the best artists. He had Beverley for his scene-painter, and during his tenancy of Drury Lane, Charles Mathews, G. V. Brooke, the Keans, and some of the best stars made their appearance on the boards. He was also one of the first to recognize provincial talent, and bring it to London. He was the founder of the Alhambra in Leicester Square, previously to that known as the Panopticon, and opened it as a circus, February 7th, 1858. He was lessee of Her Majesty's ; and in Italian Opera, Titiens, Piccolomini, and Giuglini appeared under him. He leased Cremorne Gardens from 1861 to 1869. From 1867 he was lessee of the Lyceum for two years. From 1863 he was the lessee of Astley's, which he ran for some years. Commencing October 1870, he ran the Surrey for a short season. In 1871 he leased Highbury Barn, and not very long afterwards became the proprietor of the Regent Music Hall, Westminster. He then appears to have turned his attention again to restaurant catering, and opened a dining-hall under the vaults of the Royal Exchange, which was a conspicuous failure. Years before he started the Radnor at the corner of Chancery Lane, and opened a refreshment room in Leicester Square known as the Cremorne Supper Rooms. The Sunday Times became his property in 1856 for a short time, and he also started the Bedfordshire Independent with a view of entering Parliament, but not obtaining sufficient support he very shortly gave up both these journals. He made many friends, who were always ready to assist him in his various speculations, and though these did not always turn out profitable to the investors, it should be mentioned that he retained his friends, as they had perfect faith in his honesty of purpose. He was a noted character in his day ; he liked to see his name in print as a generous supporter of any form of charity, and though it has been imputed to him that he did this for the sake of advertisement, a great many of his acts originated from genuine kindness. He died November 26th 1877, and was buried at Brompton Cemetery.