The Windmill Theatre, Great Windmill Street, London, first opened on the 15th of June 1931 as a small playhouse.
Named after being built on the same site as there had once been a Windmill standing until the late part of the eighteenth century, The Windmill Theatre started as nothing more than a mere reconstruction of a small playhouse replacing the once famous Britain’s first art house cinema, The Palais de Luxe.
Bought by Laura Henderson in 1930, the former Palais de Luxe was rebuilt as a theatre by the architect F. Edward Jones, who had the exterior of the building remodelled to resemble a windmill, and the interior completely restructured.
The new auditorium, which has been kept until the present day, was built on two levels, stalls and one circle, with views to a spectacular stage.
The unpopularity of the Windmill’s first play, made Mrs. Henderson and her manager Vivian Van Damm decide to use the Theatre as a variety house with non-stop performances. Revudeville was an immediate success and people flocked to theatre to see the new innovative productions which were performed from 2.30 in the afternoon right up until 11 in the evening.
The Windmill Girls were the actual cause of the immense success of the non-stop variety shows. The Windmill dancers appeared in nude tableaux throughout the performances, having to remain absolutely still for the entire time of the performances because of licensing restrictions. Should they have moved a muscle, the Theatre would have been closed down.
Being the only theatre in London to stay open throughout WWII, its cast were often reduced to sleeping in the Theatre during the worst periods of bombing.
After Laura Henderson’s death in 1944, the Windmill continued its performances under the direction of Vivian Van Damm and his daughter Sheila Van Damm until 1964.
However, the Windmill, as most historical places around Soho, faced some dark times, being turned from the renowned theatre to a casino, and losing its shine.
Until 1994, when the glory of the Windmill was restored by its current proprietor, Oscar Owide, former owner of Chaplins, Crazy Horse, Stork Club and Bentley’s Restaurant. Keeping the theatre’s original features by restoring its magnificent stage and balcony, the Windmill was once more a unique and innovative theatre, presenting the most wonderful dancers and astonishing performances to the public.
With pride in its history, the Windmill International has become a place for gentlemen to entertain and be entertained, while providing visitors with some of the most lavishing and relaxing surroundings that London has to offer.
Its proprietor’s innovative and daring ideas, meant that the Windmill International has always a surprise in store for those entering its doors. Gentlemen are presented with all the wonders of the City and more in the exclusive historic atmosphere of the Windmill, London’s first fully nude club. Proud to have never closed its doors, not even during the Blitz.
Discover what the Windmill International Gentlemen Club is nowadays, or have a look at to see what we have to offer…