DERELICT LONDON CINEMAS/BINGO HALLS AND THEATRES (There are more old cinemas in the music section too)
CARLTON CINEMA (aka ABC Cinema) , ESSEX RD, N1
This Grade 2 listed building was designed by architect George Coles in 1930. Typical of Coles' style such as the Troxy in Stepney Green and some other Odeon cinemas across the UK,the façade of the building is in the form of an Egyptian 'pylon' temple and is decorated with Egyptian iconography including lotus flowers and buds. It is faced with brightly-coloured ceramic tiles.
Inside, the is building decorated with Empire style fittings, with more Egyptian-style touches in the auditorium. It was equipped with plush balcony seating and a cafe for patrons, and once housed a large organ to be played during silent movie performances.
The last film shown was the comedy “Mutiny on the Buses”. After this is operated as a Mecca bingo hall, which ran up until 2007. The current owners, a religious organisation - are in the process of submitting planning applications.
Brian Mulligan posted on Facebook: "Once wrote a song about this place - the ABC where she kissed me now has bingo on every night"
STRATFORD - THE REX CINEMA
Opened as the Borough Theatre and Opera House,in 1896 designed by Frank Matcham. A new corner entrance was added and the auditorium replaced and reopened complete with its own Wurlitzer organ as the Rex Cinema in 1933. It was converted to a bingo hall in 1969 then back to a cinema in 1974 for a brief spell then lay derelict for over 20 years. It was restored as a concert venue and club in 1997 but closed in 2010 after its previous owners failed to pay rent and business rates.
in1999, Richard Parkinson, 30, a doorman at the Stratford Rex was shot dead as concert-goers arrived for a gig by the Jamaican reggae artist Beenie Man. Two people were also injured by ricochets.
The building is currently being converted into a complex to include a club, a restaurant & wine bar.
STREATHAM - MECCA BOWLING CENTRE
Built originally as the Gaumont Palace and opened in 1932 to hold a cinema audience of nearly 2500. Constructed between the two World Wars this building represents a extravagant display of cinema building before the Second World War and television changed the nations viewing habits for good. The building suffered bomb damage during the war and was used thereafter as a factory. The cinema re-opened in 1955 & closed again in 1961. The building reopened as Top Rank Bowl in 1962 with 40 lanes, the largest bowling alley in Europe. It had been a bowling alley ever since until closure in 2008.
Plans are to demolish the building and retain the facade and constructing a mixed use development including a theatre space.
FOREST HILL - CAPITOL CINEMA
The Capitol opened as a cinema in 1929. Renamed the ABC in 1968, the cinema gave its last picture show in 1973. There were plans to convert and even demolish the building. However, The Capitol opened as a bingo hall in February 1978, closing in the 1996. The building was saved and now bears its original name as a Wetherspoon pub which is situated on the groundfloor. However the upper circle remains disused and untouched - all the dusty old seats remain with little metak ashtrays on the back of the seats. There are tales of paranormal activity related to a man who died in the building back in the cinema's heyday.
STREATHAM - REGAL CINEMA (aka ABC & Cannon)
Opened as The Regal in 1938 with Ginger Rogers in "Vivacious Lady" with seating for nearly 2000 people.The side walls of the circle had backlit niches in the sidewalls which contained Art Deco style figurines. Re-named the ABC in 1977 then later Cannon Cinema then back to ABC just before closing in 2000. It had been given a Grade II Listed building status but only the front not the auditorium.
Squatters moved in and caused several fires and there were raves in the vacant building. Unfortunatrly in 2004 the auditorium was demolished & apartments were built on the site, with theoriginal cinema facade and foyer retained as an entrance.
HOXTON - THE CINEMA
The Cinema in Hoxton opened in 1914 and had a capacity of 866. It was temporarily closed at the height of the Blitz, and finally shut its doors in 1956, a victim to the rival claims on people’s attention of the up and coming world of television.
The building lay empty for four years, and was then used as a meat storage facility until 2001. Now derelict, plans are underway to reopen it as a four-screen cinema, with office space bolted on above. Whether the scheme will be successful remains to be seen: some local residents have pointed out that poor attendance drove the last new cinema project in the area (the Lux in Hoxton Square) out of business, and that there is a rival cinema close by on Bethnal Green Road.
ELTHAM - CORONET CINEMA
The Odeon Cinema opened in 1936 to serve the suburban development in the Well Hall area of Eltham. Subsequently it became the Coronet.It finally closed its doors in 1999 due to declining trade. Local campaigners want to see the borough’s first bowling alley built on the site, while developers favour converting the building into work space, shops and a café. It is currently in limbo, prey to vandals.
Just across the roundabout from the Coronet cinema, opposite an anonymous bus stop along an anonymous suburban road lies a simple grey marble plaque. . Engraved with the epitaph 'Inmemory of Stephen Lawrence'. Black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered by thugs at this bus stop. A bungled police investigation means no one has been convicted for his murder.
Debbie writes: "Your photos of Eltham Coronet cinema made me smile and brought back memories of when I was a student in the early 90s and used to go to the Turnpike Lane Coronet cinema. It had the same signs and presumably was the same chain. Monday night was student night (tickets £1!) and that gave access to creaky valour seats with stains of dubious origins, ripped carpets, clouds of fag smoke and a slightly wobbly screen with Now That's What I Call Music vol 2 playing on a loop until the film started. The combination of the place being so mingy and full of students on a Monday meant that we usually pretty much had the place to ourselves. I can remember a gang of us dancing on the stage to Now 2 until one of the staff came in and shouted at us. The staff were the best bit- grumpy, abrupt and shielded behind bullet proof screens. They grunted, threw your change and ticket at you and you only ever got half a carton of popcorn because most of it fell on the floor when they slammed it down hard on the counter. Oh happy days indeed!"
ENFIELD - RIALTO CINEMA (AKA GRANADA BINGO CLUB)
Opened in 1920 and improvements were made to the building a few years later by architect Cecil Masey and interior designer Theodore Komisarjevsky.
There were two entrances, the smaller entrance in a narrow back street served the balcony and best seats and the ornate entrance facing the Market Place gave entry to the cheaper seats. The seating accomodated a total of approx 1300 seats. The Raito was re-named Granada in 1967 but closed 4 years later with Burt Lancaster in "Valdez Is Coming" and Michael Crawford in "The Jokers" being the last films shown.The building was converted into a Granada Bingo Club & later as Gala Bingo. It closed down altogether in 1997.
CATFORD - CATFORD PLAZA (ABC Cinema)
The last remaining cinema in the Borough of Lewisham - the only London borough without a cinema?
"NEWS OF LEWISHAM HUMANISTS has campaigned vigorously in the past year against the proposal to change the use of the former ABC cinema in Catford. The Universal Church for the Kingdom of God had plans to use the building for worship and as a conference centre with library. Our opposition stemmed from the association of this church with abuse of the little girl Victoria Climbie. It was alleged that she was possessed by demons. after an attempt to 'exorcise' these she was murdered. The re-use of the building as a cinema is also sought"
WALTHAMSTOW - EMD CINEMA
The outside was designed by Cecil Masey and the interior by Theodore Komisarjevsky, both in a Moorish style. Komisarjevsky was a refugee Russian prince working for Sidney Bernstein in creating truly escapist entertainment for the masses. Foyers were lined with mirrors, and gilding and marble effects heavily used to make the customers feel like royalty. This was one of Bernstein's flag-ship Granada cinemas back in 1930 and still has it's Christie organ which has reportedly suffered only minor damage from vandalism and pigeons and organ enthusiasts at least hope to have it up and running in the future!
Interior pics courtesy of WALTHAM FOREST CIVIC SOCIETY
The man who created the Museum of the Moving Image has been called upon to bolster support for Walthamstow's ailing EMD Cinema says The North London Guardian.This cinema, when opened, had three screens and could seat up to 3000 people. During the 1960s it hosted gigs by the Who, the Stones and the Beatles, among many othersLeslie Hardcastle, who ran the National Film Theatre for 35 years, recently visited the Hoe Street venue.He said the Grade II-listed building should be turned into a multi-purpose venue. "There's enough room to put a coffee house, an information technology suite, and all sorts of other things in here.There's a lot of space here going to waste and it needs to be preserved. The country protects its stately homes and castles, and makes sure they continue to operate, so why not the cinemas?"
Another press story from the N London Guardian: "The EMD cinema has been devastated during a marathon 30-hour illegal rave which saw clubbers enjoying an orgy of drug-taking and mindless vandalism. The historic Grade 2 listed building was covered in graffiti, and seats and projection equipment were ripped out and stolen during the frenzy. Dozens of residents had no sleep as up to 500 ravers broke in on Sunday at around 2am. They were still there at noon on Monday. Booming music and noisy clubbers kept residents awake and police were powerless to act as they were hugely outnumbered."
The cinema was bought by the UK church of God (UKCG)* who wanted to turn it into a meeting centre / church. There was a lot of local opposition to this, resulting in the local council turning down UKCG's plans. The UKCG then appealed to the Government but lost. The cinema is still empty and awaiting conversion to a "Help Centre"
DB recalls: "In the early 80's, i used to work there, around the back of the cinema was the handymans workshop. One day, whilst doing an outside light check, i noticed a man walking down, towards the back of the cinema. I called out and the man stopped. He looked familiar to me but i just couldnt place him, but i knew that i knew the face. He told me he was looking for the cinemas "handyman"..I followed him down to the workshop, and called out to the "handyman" that he had a visitor...Both men started to look at me and the man, who i thought i 'knew', asked / told me..."You dont recognise me..do you..??".. I replied "I have seen you around here before"... And then the handyman told me who it was... It was "Bobby Moore", the footballer..the world cup 1966 footballer... THE one and only Bobby Moore...Turns out that Bobby Moore knew the handyman from when they were both children, they had grown up together in Barking and used to go to the cinema when they were both younger. One friend became a handyman, the other captained England and lifted the World Cup."
Diana Keevil writes: "You may be interested to know that I was invited by Mr Cecil Bernstain to do a PR stunt at the Granada Easter 1937 during the heat wave of that year. In the foyer they had rigged a canopy where I was to sit under a sign which read ' It is cooler inside than out' with a bottle of Kiaora all set out in a holiday type atmpsphere, then three or four times a day I would go up to the roof where they had rigged a platform, and performed acrobatic tricks. The film showing at the time was 'A Hundred Men and a Girl' with Deanna Durbin as this was cinevariety, the act was 'The Penslows' a Dutch Strong man acrobatic act just over from Holland.. I am at the moment giving talks to various organisations about my life and the incident of the 'Granada Cinema' features large in this talk."
WALTHAMSTOW - THE DOMINION
The Dominion, built on the site of the Prince’s Pavilion, was built to seat 1685 and came complete with a Wurlitzer organ. It opened on a very foggy night in 1930 with a showing of Little Accident, starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
The cinema closed in 1958 and was then used for wrestling. It reopened as a cinema a short while afterwards, only to close again for conversion to a bingo hall in 1961 – the fate of so many grand cinemas. The bingo hall closed in August 1996 and plans to convert the building into a nightclub fell through.
The cinema’s grand frontage used to be twice as tall. Now the building is boarded up and unloved.
Derelict London visitor DB remembers: "It was a Music hall / Cinema combined.. On its opening night it was shrouded in heavy fog..and it is noted that "The carriages arriving, were only visible by the foyer lights"... It is noted and logged at "Vestry House Museum", Walthamstow Village.. (It used to back onto my infant school...but its all changed now...roads have gone...playgrounds gone...half the school was demolished to make way for a new access road...)"
same view of the front in 2006 - bingo signs removed & more boarding
WALTHAMSTOW - EMPRESS ELECTRIC PICTURE THEATRE
The Empress Cinema in Hoe Street near the junction with the Bakers Arms, dates from 1913, built by local builders and merchants, Good Brothers. It became the Cameo in 1961, closing in 1963 to become a bingo club, then it reopened to show uncensored sex films in 1970 as the Tatler Film Club, the opening films were Love Lamp Seven and Free Love Confidential, it eventually closed in Aug 1981 to become an amusement arcade. Listed for preservation by the Department of Culture Media and Sport on the advice of English Heritage. Now its been refurbished as is the Kingsway International Christian Centre.
CROYDON BROAD GREEN - SAFARI CINEMA (originally called The Savoy and then the ABC)
Now demolished the 1930s Safari Cinema will be replaced by 138 flats, including 52 key worker shared-ownership flats.
The Beatles played here the night of March 21, 1963, and their first album, Please Please Me, was released the following day. Cilla Black and PJ Proby also played live shows here.
Wally Plummer wrote in the Croydon Guardian: "Imagine a young lad of 15-years-old, watching Yolton Korda's 1939 version of The Four Feathers. I saw it in the middle of an air-raid! The announcement would flash up on the big screen that an air-raid was in progress, and the programme would continue. What with the noise of the Sudan uprising of the 1890s on screen and the real life gun-fire outside the building, it sounded like stereophonic sound."
and P Quinn wrote: "The cinema survived the Blitz, it was a place that Croydon people escaped to inside to dream of a better world. But I fear it will not survive the vested interests of developers and a council more geared than ever to keeping property developers, large chains, and big franchises happy. What Croydon Council does not seem to grasp is that cities have layers: they are mixtures of old and new, antiquated and ultra-modern. The Council should think hard before removing a small but significant layer from the town centre. But I suspect that those of us who care and hold out hope for the future of this particular dream palace can only dream on."
Peter Frearson writes: "So sad to see this wonderfull old cinema like this ,as school boy I saw my first western in 3d and came out at the end quite convinced I had an arrow in my school cap ,this was the 1950 s when there was a bit more room on the planet."
Colin Marsh writes: "my father, LEN MARSH, was Assistant Manager at the ABC – originally called the SAVOY – until the early 1960’s,when he moved to an administrative job at ABC Head Office. Dad worked for ABC from c.1946 until the late 1970’s. and managed a number of cinemas in and around South London, although West Croydon was his base. He acted as Relief Manager at cinemas inPurley, Norbury, Streatham, Mitcham, Balham, Tooting, Beckenham, Camberwell, Forest Hill – and those are the only ones I can remember. If anyone remembers my Dad – worked with him, perhaps – I would like to hear from them. Dad died in 1997, and I am trying to piece together the gaps in our family history." Colin.Marsh@UCS.AC.UK
BRIXTON - REX CINEMA
ARCHWAY - ARCHWAY THEATRE
LEYSTONSTONE - THE STATE
The round bit on the top was the projection box. pic courtesy of Roy Dart who worked at the cinema in the 1950's
I've been informed that this WAS NOT A CINEMA! it is actually a former Burton's menswear shop! It was orginally faced in black stone as opposed to the more usual light grey and would have had a billiard/snooker hall on the 1st Floor. ( the Burton family were of a temporance persuation and believed in providing alternatives to licensed premises for public entertainment).
CAMBERWELL, SE5 - THE NEW GRAND HALL CINEMATOGRAPH THEATRE
Opened in 1912 With a capacity of 840.Originally built as a function hall and was also used for roller skating.
The Theatre was later renamed the Grand Cinema. The Grand then continued showing films until it closed in 1968.
The building was then a bingo hall and is now a snooker hall and is in a very run down state.
And finally, here are some cinemas put to other uses: A snooker hall, a pub, a restaurant and a church