Miss Bishop’s School for Girls & Little Boys

The Allisons’ had two children, James & Rose. The 1891 census records James, age 7, and Rose, age 5, under their parents real name Beddoe, boarding with Miss Edith Bishop at her home school in Ryecroft Road, Lewisham. In 1891, the Allisons’ toured America, leaving behind their young children in the care of Miss Bishop. The Allison’s extensive touring arrangements in America and later Australia, led to little James & Rose attending boarding school throughout the 1890s.

1891 census England 18 Ryecroft Road, Lewisham, London. (Ancestry.com)

In 1891, Ryecroft Road, a loop road with big villas and lodges as seen here on the ordnance survey map published in 1898, backs on to Streatham Common. Although not that far from Brixton where the Allison’s lived when in London, the location with its natural woodland would have felt like it was in the countryside. (ref: OS Six inch England and Wales, 1842-1952. Courtesy of National Library of Scotland)

Miss Bishop advertised her school in the theatrical newspapers including this ad in The Stage newspaper from 9th May 1895.

(© The Stage Media Company Limited, British Newspaper Archive)

Barry Lupino

The 1891 census also records that George B.L Hook was a boarder at 18 Ryecroft Road (seen above between little James and Rose Beddoe. George Hook was born in 1884, the same year as little James.

George Barry Lupino-Hook, is better known as Barry Lupino, of the famous Lupino family and was also a boarder at Miss Bishop’s school. The school was not a theatrical school in the conventional sense but taught children of many theatrical artistes and even put on performances at the Mission House in Lanier Road, Lewisham.

In this 1893 newspaper clipping from the Music Hall & Theatre Review, Master Barry Lupino is shown along with the Allison children and other pupils in a Christmas performance of “Red Riding Hood”.

(Music Hall & Theatre Review 15 Dec 1893, British Newspaper Archive)

Barry Lupino (1884- 1962) went on to be a star in his own right as a comedian and film actor. He is the brother of Stanley Lupino and uncle of Ida Lupino. His father was pantomimist and comedian George Lupino. His mother, Florence Lupino. Barry Lupino was also famous for his roles in pantomime as seen below (on right) with George Robey in Jack & the Beanstalk. Barry Lupino played “Muffins” to Robey’s “Dame Trot”.

Rotary Photographic Series (personal collection)
Baptism entry of George Barry Lupino-Hook. March 16th 1884. St Mary’s Newington, Southwark. (Ancestry.com)

Hampers packed with black tights and green dresses

With such energetic performances we rarely stop to think what the music hall stars wore or how they packed to tour across the world. Shipping records tell us that James & Lucy Allison travelled with at least 6 pieces of luggage when they travelled to perform in Australia. In this grainy newspaper clipping from the Sydney Mail & Advertiser dated 22 Feb 1902 we can see that Lucy Allison wore green velvet and her skipping rope dance was quite enough to take your breath away. Their performances also included a skit with large hats, another with evening dress and yet another dressed as elderly couple. Lucy’s mother was a milliner.

Sydney Mail & Advertiser Feb 22, 1902 (National Library Australia via Trove)

The Allison’s changed costume through their performance eventhough their turn would have been no longer that 15 minutes. Their encore required a further change in costume. This New Zealand newspaper from 1902 gives us a vivid picture of James wearing a suit of black tights with his lean, lithe figure twisting and bouncing with the music.

The Allisons (James & Lucy) are distinctively clever. They opened with a turn as an old fashioned couple, sing a song, and are tempted by the music to dance. The lady’s simulation of the tottering gait of the ancient dame is cleverly done and realistic. She also does a skipping turn in which various step dances are neatly executed, while the skipping rope whirls continuously. Mr Allison dressed in a suit of black tights, cuts some truly remarkable capers, his lean, lithe figure taking on weird aspects as he twists and bounces in time to the music.


Travelling required sturdy luggage and the British makers of such luggage would regularly advertise in the entertainment newspapers. In 1907, White Brothers of Nottingham advertised in the Music Hall and Theatre Review with a list of artistes who were customers including The Allisons. Of course this may not be James & Lucy Allison but it is indicative of the trunks and baskets used regularly for travelling artistes.

Music Hall and Theatre Review 15 March 1907 (courtesy of British Newspaper Archive)
Music Hall and Theatre Review 21 April 1905 (courtesy of British Newspaper Archive)

However, this earlier White Brothers ad from December 1899 also mentions The Allisons and perhaps it is more likely to be James & Lucy Allison because it also includes other acts that toured at the same time including The Selbinis and The Haytors on the Harry Rickards tour of Australia in 1897. At this time Whites were the main Hamper makers to supply the artistes. The Allisons’ sailed with the Selbinis’ and other performers as the Australian newspapers confirm.

Music Hall and Theatre Review. 15 December 1899 (courtesy of British Newspaper Archive)
The Express and Telegraph Adelaide 13 Nov 1897 (Courtesy National Library of Australia via Trove)
The Critic (Adelaide) 6 Nov 1897 (Courtesy National Library of Australia via Trove)