Apollo Theatre building declared ‘secure’ by surveyor

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 3, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Westminster council, which is responsible for the health and safety checks of
London’s many historic West End theatres, said it appeared to be an isolated
incident easing fears over the safety of other historic theatres.

The interior of the Apollo Theatre (Alamy)

Messages of love and support poured in from all over London’s Theatreland with
many praising the brave emergency services and theatre staff who had helped
evacuate and treat the wounded.

Staff from the nearby Gielgud, Lyric and Queens Theatres also helped in the
rescue operation.

Actor Alastair Natkiel, who is current performing in Strangers on a Train at
the Gielgud Theatre, tweeted: “Amazing to hear our staff and also Lyric and
Queen’s were all on hand straight away to help FOH and others at the Apollo.
Hope all ok x.”

He added: “Our show went on as normal but they had to use our foyer (and the
others) to treat the injured people x”


His co-star Anna O’Byrne tweeted a picture of two pet rats which had been used
in the production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and
wrote: “The animal cast from #CuriousIncident are safe and sound in our
Wardrobe dept.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote: “Terrible breaking news about the Apollo Theatre.
My thoughts are with everyone tonight.”

Actor David Suchet tweeted: “What a tragedy. My thoughts are with all those
who are hurt and injured at the Apollo Theatre. I have played this beautiful

Actress Sheridan Smith wrote: “Terrifying, hope everyone’s ok…”

Laurence Fox tweeted: “Praying for everybody at the Apollo tonight. Especially
the injured and the always brave firemen who we depend on in these horrific

Members of the emergency services work at the scene of the roof collapse
at The Apollo Theatre in London (EPA)

The collapse took place despite a laws which require historic theatres like
the Apollo to have their roofs safety checked every three years.

It has raised concerns for the safety of other historic theatre buildings.

Theatre blogger Westendproducer tweeted: “Of course, the tragedy at Apollo
Theatre tonight brings heavy questions about safety in other theatres,
particular those listed buildings.”

Westminster City Council said it would be working with other theatres
throughout the day to ensure all possible safety measures were in place.

Councillor Nickie Aiken, Westminster City Council cabinet member for community
protection, said: “Our thoughts are with those who were injured in the
incident and we want to praise the work of the emergency services who were
on site helping them within minutes.

“A district surveyor from Westminster City Council attended the site overnight
and has declared that the roof is secure.

“We will not know the cause of the incident until all investigations have
been completed but checks are ongoing.

“This appears to be an isolated incident, but we will continue to work
with theatres throughout the day to ensure that all safety precautions are
in place.”

“Historic theatres are required to undergo rigorous roof safety checks every
three years.”

Injured people are looked after by emergency services in a London bus
after the collapse of a balcony at the Apollo Theatre (Getty Images)

There had been suggestions that the collapse may have been caused by a
lightning strike, but London Fire Brigade said it had no records on its
internal log of lightning. However, it acknowledged there had been heavy

Buildings next door to the theatre were undergoing structural works, the fire
brigade said, but they were not believed to have contributed to the

A spokesman said that a section of ceiling around 30ft by 30ft plunged four
storeys on to the audience below — a distance of at least 30ft.

“Three people trapped underneath were released and about 80 walking wounded
were treated by London Ambulance Service,” she added.

London Fire Brigade deputy assistant commissioner Graham Ellis said: “Ornate
plasterwork and lighting rigs have fallen on the audience from a great
height. “Members of the audience in the theatre’s upper circle, circle and
stalls have been affected by the structural collapse.

“Emergency services are now waiting for structural engineers to check the
building before further work can be carried out, but all casualties are
believed to have been removed from the premises.

“The other theatres have responded in the traditions of ‘theatreland’ and have
rallied round and taken casualties into their theatres.”

He said the cause of the catastrophic collapse was still unconfirmed but there
were no suspicious circumstances.

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