In her memoirs the story-teller and writer Lavinia Derwent tells of starting work in the city in the 1930s, the picture palaces, music halls and dance halls “But I soon abandoned the music hall when I discovered the real theatre. At first I patronized the little theatres where actors and actresses were trying out their wings ….. their acting was excellent. When I ventured to the “real” theatre the names were bigger but the acting no better. Here I could see beautiful people in the flesh, the ladies attired in lovely Parisian gowns with never a crease or a safety-pin to be seen. They moved gracefully about the stage after coming down some stairs from a sunlit garden to ring their parlourmaid who brought in afternoon tea complete with sugar tongs. The ladies deftly manipulated the sugar tongs, sipped their tea without slopping a drop into the saucer, and nibbled little sandwiches without a visible chew.
“The actors were not the only ones drinking tea. During the interval, while the male members of the audience sloped off to the bars, their ladies were handed little teatrays ordered in advance from the Tea Service Room, containing all the appurtenances, apart from tongs, for a refreshing interlude. We sat primly in our places trying to eat the biscuits as daintily as the beautiful people on the stage, and not to rattle the teaspoons if the attendants had not collected the empty trays before the curtain went up. What with the men returning late to their seats and the teatrays jangling, the beginning of the next act was always a dead loss. There were whispered “hushes” from all sides while the performers tried not to look annoyed.”