Victorian ceiling wadding to blame for Apollo roof collapse

Engineers have discovered that the fall of the roof of the Apollo Theatre - which is due to open later this week - was caused by the deterioration of Victorian wadding ties which supported the ceiling.

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Theatres take safety very seriously

Following notification from Westminster City Council that the failure of historic hessian wadding ties might be implicated in the collapse of the ceiling at the Apollo, theatres and other historic buildings have acted accordingly says the Society of London Theatre.

Theatre owners in the West End take the safety of all theatregoers and staff extremely seriously, and acted quickly to recheck all their buildings, and continue to absorb all the guidance arising out of the investigation. Discussions also continue between SOLT, English Heritage, the Association of British Theatre Technicians and Westminster’s Health & Safety Executive on the issues raised. All theatres have up to date certificates in line with the licensing requirements.

– Society of London Theatre


Century old cloth and plaster ties caused collapse

The police cordon at the Apollo in December Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Westminster Council has said that the collapse of the ceiling of the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue last December was caused by the deterioration of century-old cloth and plaster ties holding up timber frames.

The incident during the Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time injured 80 members of the audience when 10 square yards of plaster plummeted on to the stalls below, and forced the closure of the grade II-listed theatre.

Paramedics attend to an injured person at the scene at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue in December Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/

The ties, made of hessian and plaster of Paris, were used to lash together timber frames to support the suspended ceiling and had been in place since the theatre opened in 1901.

The Apollo will re-open this week for the first time since December 19.

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  • Theatre safe to open says council

    The Victorian wadding, made of a mix of thick hessian and plaster of paris had detoriated - but theatre now safe to open says council.