V&A Archive


The entrance to the quiet grown up place at the V&A archive in Kensington.

Regular readers will know about the Jack Hylton Archive at Lancaster University, and many will know how much time I’ve spent there researching both the upcoming book, Jack Hylton – The Definitive Biography and the upcoming concert, The Band That Jack Built.

Fewer will realise that there’s also a Jack Hylton Archive at the V&A Museum, stored at it’s Kensington Olympia home at Blythe House. To be honest, nobody can quite work out why it’s there. It does have a slightly more theatrical leaning than the more band-based archive in Lancaster, but I suspect that essentially there was a mistake somewhere along the line and nobody is either around anymore or has enough information or will to do anything about it.

As it happens, the twenty three boxes of archive material at the V&A are just as well looked after and protected as the zillion boxes in Lancaster. I suspected I wouldn’t have to worry too much about the information there, and I was right. I mean, unless you want a box full of box office receipts from a couple of months of one random show of which Jack Hylton was producer. I’m pretty much fanatical about him, but that box was given very short shrift.

I dug up a couple of interesting things, but essentially if you want to know about Jack Hylton, don’t go there. If you’re a theatre history nut, you might do better.

So anyway, that means that I’ve finished writing my book. I now have to read the damn thing, edit it a little, then send it off for proof reading. Once that’s done, I’ll pretty much send it off to be published and start concentrating on writing music for the concert, which is a different kind of agony.

Oh, I also went to the Nation Archives at Kew, whilst I was down south. Not much for me there either, I’m pretty confident that Hylton’s war records don’t exist, like so many others. Ah well…

Below is a picture I took yesterday. It’s an early sketch from the designer of Kiss Me Kate, a show which Hylton brought over from the States in 1951 and which he gave a London debut. It’s a neat little insight to what goes on. Don’t get excited, there’s not lots of this stuff at the V&A but there are lots and lots of tedious letters about accommodation in some obscure European town for a one night concert Gigli gave in about 1950. Riveting.



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