Urban Sightseeing: #3 Picture This

By Londonist Last edited 116 months ago
Urban Sightseeing: #3 Picture This
Carlton, Essex Road, N1. Closed and empty.
Carlton, Essex Road, N1. Closed and empty.
EMD Cinema, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17.  Now empty.
EMD Cinema, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17. Now empty.
The Regal, Kennington Road, SE11. In the process of being converted into flats.
The Regal, Kennington Road, SE11. In the process of being converted into flats.
Gaumont State, Kilburn, NW6. When it opened in December 1937 it was the largest movie palace ever built in England.
Gaumont State, Kilburn, NW6. When it opened in December 1937 it was the largest movie palace ever built in England.
Savoy Cinema, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, E10. Now a bingo hall.
Savoy Cinema, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, E10. Now a bingo hall.
Hoxton Cinema, Pitfield Street, N1. Plans for renovation are underway:
Hoxton Cinema, Pitfield Street, N1. Plans for renovation are underway:
Astoria, Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, N4, Now a church. Its wonderful interior is still intact.
Astoria, Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, N4, Now a church. Its wonderful interior is still intact.
Vogue, Stoke Newington High Street, N16.
Vogue, Stoke Newington High Street, N16.
Astoria Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2
Astoria Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2
Essoldo, Bethnal Green Road, E2.
Essoldo, Bethnal Green Road, E2.

Inspired by the imminent demolition of the Astoria in Charing Cross Road, these photos are examples London's forgotten cinemas; picture houses that are still standing but no longer screening. There are plenty of others, not included here, such as The Scala in Kings Cross, the Imperial in Tottenham, The Gaumont in Wood Green, the Coronet in Holloway and the Granada in Willesden.

The demise of such cinemas is sad but unsurprising story. Back in the days before TVs, DVDs, Wiis and downloads, people would go out to be entertained. The local cinema was often the focal point in town. People went at least once a week; it was a place to socialise where they could watch the same film over and over, kiss in the back row, smoke anywhere, and catch up with the latest news. Queues for the latest films would snake around the building. Children looked forward to Saturday morning cinema and came home with souvenir masks or glow-in-the-dark lapel badges.

The introduction of home video players and rental shops in the 1970s became the major cause of the picture palace's demise. People were able to choose from hundreds of films and watch them from the comfort of their own sofa whilst eating a take away and wearing a dressing gown. And while large multiplex venues still pack in the punters, the local cinema offering just a handful of films struggles to compete.

The lovely old cinemas of yore, like those shown above, are dying off fast. Many examples of old Art Deco architecture have been lost to us forever through demolition or redevelopment. Of those that escaped the wrecking ball, many were unsympathetically gutted and refitted with more screens, or became bingo halls. Some of those bingo halls have since become churches whilst many old churches have been turned into pubs. But that's another topic for another day.

Clink the links under each picture to find out more about each of these old buildings.

By Jane. You can see more of Jane's London photo collections, covering everything from boot scrapers to weather vanes, over at Janeslondon and Jane's Flickrstream.

Last Updated 30 January 2009