Old Cloth Ties Blamed For Theater Ceiling Collapse

Investigators say weakened, century-old cloth and plaster ties caused a partial ceiling collapse that injured almost 80 audience members at London’s Apollo Theatre.

Local authority Westminster Council said Monday that the “principal cause” of the collapse was the deterioration of the hessian and plaster of Paris ties, used to bind the timber frames supporting the suspended ceiling. They had been in place since the Apollo Theatre opened in 1901.

The council said it was sending advice to owners of other historic buildings on safety checks and precautions.

Seven people were seriously hurt and scores more slightly injured when chunks of plaster and wood fell from the theater ceiling during a performance on Dec. 19.

Photo: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
A woman stands bandaged following an incident at the Apollo Theatre, in London's Shaftesbury Avenue.

The venue is due to reopen Wednesday, with a protective deck installed under the ceiling.