Lola’s Underground Casino
Lola McGuire was a chorus girl at the Hippodrome from its opening in 1900 right up until the outbreak of WW1. Savagely beautiful with a captivating charm described by one theatre critic as ‘close to hypnotic and wholly irresistible’, she was a favourite of the older and wealthier gentlemen who would come to The Hippodrome purely on the chance of sharing an after show drink with her. Wherever Lola went, scandal went too.
But it was only when Lola suddenly disappeared in September 1914 that the full truth emerged. The London Evening News picked up the story and ran with it well into the early part of 1915. Apparently Lola was no ordinary show girl. She was a true Edwardian entrepreneur and understood that all societies – no matter how underground – needed administration. She created and ran the under-stage after parties at The Hippodrome, organising gambling, money lending through her own makeshift bank and operated the cellar bar using gin salvaged from the barges making their regular trips up the Thames from bankside distilleries. It was even rumoured she offered every customer owing her money a chance to win it back on the turn of a card. She never lost and the whisper was that Lola had made some powerful friends on the other side.
No trace of Lola McGuire was ever found. Some believe she was the victim of a disgruntled gambler or jealous wife: others that she simply vanished into the London smog to avoid the increasing attentions of the Metropolitan police. Reports of sightings in different parts of the world continued until as late as 1950. Others still, believe she never actually left The Hippodrome.