Bernard Delfont Limited Archive

Scope and Content

Scripts and prompt scripts, account books, production files, Lord Chamberlain licences, press packs, photographs, architectural drawings and plans, musician contracts and other records. Archive also includes rolled drawings and plans and some set-model pieces.

Administrative / Biographical History

Bernard Delfont (1909-1994) began his career in theatrical management in 1949, having previously been a dancer, agent and impresario. During the late 1940s he took over the London Casino (later the Prince Edward Theatre) and began a collaboration with Val Parnell, who controlled the London Palladium. As a result, Delfont was able to buy the lease on the Prince of Wales Theatre, which he established as a major variety and later musical theatre venue. In 1958 established the Talk of the Town revue-restaurant at the London Hippodrome in partnership with Charles Forte. During the 1950s and 1960s Delfont established himself as a leading theatrical impresario, later merging his interests with those of his brothers, Lew and Leslie Grade. In 1967 the Grade/Delfont organisation merged with EMI’s leisure division, owners of the Blackpool Tower Company. In 1979 he became chief executive of EMI and a year later sold its leisure interests to Trusthouse Forte. Delfont became Chief Executive of a new THF Leisure Division, controlling West End theatres as well as the Blackpool Tower, piers, ballrooms and discos. In 1983 he led a management buyout and formed First Leisure Corporation with Max Rayne. Having established a partnership with Cameron Mackintosh to run his West End theatres in 1991, Delfont retired from active management of the business in 1992. Bernard Delfont was knighted in 1974 and created Lord Delfont of Stepney in 1976.


This collection is arranged as follows:

  • THM/300/1 - Press Packs
  • THM/300/2 - Production Files
  • THM/300/3 - Agreements
  • THM/300/4 - Musician Contract Files
  • THM/300/5 - Account Books
  • THM/300/6 - Lord Chamberlain's Certificates
  • THM/300/7 - Architectural Drawings
  • THM/300/8 - Scripts and Prompt Scripts

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Bernard Delfont Limited may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.