Old photo of Art Deco theatre exterior with signs saying 'Pavillion Theatre'

Lodge Lane Pavilion Theatre, c1947. Courtesy of Liverpool Record Office

Musical sounds and activities have been affected in some fundamental ways by the growth and development of cities. Take the American cities of Memphis and Chicago for example. Between 1860 and 1900 their populations quadrupled as migrants travelled to them in search of employment and a more prosperous future. They included migrants from Eastern and Central Europe and also those from the southern US countryside who took with them their country blues and gospel musics. The sound and style of these musics subsequently changed to reflect their new urban environment, taking on electrical amplification and a new range of sounds and rhythms. These new styles were distributed to a wider public by the radio stations and record companies that had emerged in Memphis and Chicago to cater for their growing urban population.

Liverpool provides another example. Until the 18th century it remained a small coastal settlement with a population of only a few hundred. This situation changed dramatically following the construction of the Old Dock of 1715, one of the world's first wet docks. This enabled Liverpool to develop and rapidly expand as a trading port strung out along the length of the River Mersey. As Liverpool forged trading links with Europe, America, the West Indies, India, China and Africa, it expanded outwards from the central waterfront area, gradually incorporating surrounding villages. The opening of the Liverpool/ Manchester Railway in 1830 encouraged further expansion.

Increasing numbers of both visitors and residents were attracted to Liverpool and there was a growing demand for music and other forms of entertainment to cater for them. Street musicians, for example, entertained people as they disembarked from the ships.

Describing a visit to Liverpool in 1839, the novelist Herman Melville wrote:

"Hand-organs, fiddles and cymbals, plied by strolling musicians, mix with the songs of the seamen, the babble of women and children, and the whining of beggars. From the various boarding houses... proceeds the noise of revelry and dancing."

A wealth of music and entertainment establishments emerged both in the city centre and in the city's fast expanding suburbs. From the mid-19th century this included music halls, which had been concentrated in London but spread gradually to provincial cities. The Pavilion Theatre, for example, was the last of several new music halls built in Liverpool's suburbs.

During the first half of the 19th century Lodge Lane was a semi-rural road located south of Liverpool city centre.

detail of map showing a narrow strip of housing along a long road

1863 map showing Lodge Lane surrounded by fields and parklands

Just 20 years later, however, Lodge Lane had been dramatically transformed. The big houses had been pulled down, their gardens sold and streets cut through them. A mass of terraced houses had developed alongside the kind of amenities demanded by a growing population. They included public houses, beer shops, grocers, confectioners, a washhouse, library and school, and in 1908 the Pavilion music hall.

Lodge Lane in 1883

As the historian Dave Russell (1987) points out, music hall performers travelled around the UK on the newly developed railway network, taking the same songs to different audiences and thereby helping to unify music tastes and repertoire across the nation. This created a demand for sheet music which, like pianos, was also distributed around the country by rail. Consequently the number of professional musicians dramatically increased.

In addition, the emergence and growth of cities provided the conditions necessary for the development of the modern music industry. Facilities for the recording, production and dissemination of music developed in many cities, whilst dense urban populations provided accessible markets for music producers and the mass media (Shepherd and Manuel, 2003).