Cinefile: Phoenix Cinema Restoration Project, East Finchley

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 93 months ago
Cinefile: Phoenix Cinema Restoration Project, East Finchley

Builders finish off the new stage in the auditorium. The 1910 ceiling has been painted the colour it originally was.
Builders finish off the new stage in the auditorium. The 1910 ceiling has been painted the colour it originally was.
A new balcony outside the cinema - there'll be tables and chairs out there when it's nice weather.
A new balcony outside the cinema - there'll be tables and chairs out there when it's nice weather.
Part of the almost-built new cafe area.
Part of the almost-built new cafe area.
A new foyer exhibition outlining the Phoenix's history.
A new foyer exhibition outlining the Phoenix's history.
New signage and front at the Phoenix Cinema.
New signage and front at the Phoenix Cinema.
Soon, lightboxes will appear on the side wall (now painted the colour it was in 1910) with photos of the cinema in each period of its history.
Soon, lightboxes will appear on the side wall (now painted the colour it was in 1910) with photos of the cinema in each period of its history.
One of the 1938 panels inside the auditorium.
One of the 1938 panels inside the auditorium.

Poking around London's independent cinemas

Over the next few months Londonist will be visiting some of the city's independent cinemas, and we're kicking things off by heading to the Phoenix in East Finchley, celebrating its centenary - it's thought to be one of the oldest continuously-running cinemas in the country - with a huge restoration project.

Already a firm local favourite with a beautiful art deco auditorium, the charitable trust that owns the cinema has been fundraising for several years to bring the Phoenix into the 21st century and its history back to life. So they've fitted air conditioning and new lights, restored the original colour scheme and sorted out the auditorium's ugly back wall by digging two more of the 1938 wall panels out of storage. A brand new cafe area and balcony have also been created, making the building a place to hang out as well as watch films.

The Phoenix re-opens tonight after a six month closure with Stephen Frears doing a Q&A for his new film Tamara Drewe. Regulars will know about its brilliant Sunday double bills (themed oldies), but these are on the back burner for the rest of the year as they run a Century of Cinema, free screenings of films from each decade including King Kong, Casablanca and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

And, very importantly, the snacking at the Phoenix is great - even before the new cafe. You can buy homemade brownies and other cakes, but if you want to stick with tradition they price their drinks and popcorn at a very reasonable £1, £2 or £3.

The Phoenix Cinema is at 52 High Road, East Finchley N2 9PJ. Tickets cost £9 / £6 concessions, and £6 all day Mondays. See their website for more information.

Corrected: 10 September 2010, 15: 30. The Phoenix is 'one of the oldest continuously-running cinemas' in the UK, and not 'the oldest' as previously stated. (The honour, in case you were wondering, goes to the Duke of York's Picturehouse in Brighton. Thanks to @GreatGreenWorld for correction.)

Last Updated 10 September 2010

Puzzler

Went to see a Michael Palin Q&A and showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the Phoenix a few years back. It was beautiful and impressive then and I can't wait to see what work they've done.

Lindsey

The first time I went here it was a revelation to be able to get a cup of earl grey and a piece of homemade cake for my film. So glad it's reopening!