[see also the Albert Saloon and Royal Standard Pleasure Gardens - I assume a different venue, ed.]
The streets of London. . . are now on Saturdays and
Sundays almost.., as lively and picturesque as those of a continental town.
Beards, knickerbockers, volunteer uniforms, and a greater laxity and
individuality of costume, have done it. . . . I went down to Tothill Street, to
examine a place there which advertises itself as 'The Albert Saloon.'
I expected a large music hall, but found myself instead in a small room, like the parlour of a village cabaret. 30 or 40 people - as many as the place would hold - sat on benches, drinking porter & smoking.
At the end of the room was a cracked square piano. . . . A young woman sat on a broken chair, with her back to the audience, strumming on the piano with an unmeaning monotony. Three other young women, without bonnets and wearing cheap muslin gowns & jackets, sat among the people. ... There was no curriculum of entertainment: every now & then one of the young women would say, I think I'll sing a song,' and would mount.., to the stage, and warble some 'Aunt Sally' or other harmless popular thing; the pianist strumming ever as usual. Sometimes the daubed canvas dropscene was raised, and a stage of about 6 feet by 10 was displayed, where one of the ladies performed a few conjuring tricks, or - on one occasion - a statuesque group of very mild & unexceptionable kind was represented by a woman and a child . . .
I came away. . . much gratified with the rude picturesqueness and propriety of the place . . .
Arthur Munby, Diary, 17 May 1862