Cinemas of Leyton & Walthamstow

Empress Electric Picture Theatre AKA Scala AKA Plaza AKA Cameo
468-474 Hoe Street
Erected in 1913 by Messrs Good Brothers, a well known builders and builders merchants who were impressarios for a few years.

Good Brothers ran four cinemas in the Walthamstow and Leyton area (the Empire, the Queens, the Arcadia and the Empress).

It was shut for about two decades until it was taken over by the Kingsway International Christian Centre, who budgeted £2.2m to refurbish it for use as a church. According to the architect Paul Henry far more than this was actually spent because the building was seriously damaged by a fire that spread from an adjoining premises. The cinema was Grade II listed partly as a result of the elaborate plasterwork on the walls. Mr Henry's team had made an exact copy of this plasterwork prior to the fire so were able to restore it. Kingsway International Christian Centre was investigated by the Charities Commission who issued a report in October 2005 that said there had been serious misconduct and mismanagement. The cinema was originally designed to accommodate 830 but Kingsway increased the seating capacity to 1,000. It closed as a cinema in January 1963 and was then used as a bingo hall for several years. Kingsway acquired it in October 2001 and the refurbished building was opened on August 12, 2007. It remains listed though very little of the original is still in place.

Arcadia Electric Theatre AKA Arcadia Picture Palace AKA Arcadia,

199-210 Wood Street

Opened in 1912. At one time the screen was put in the middle of the audience so that the occupants of the cheaper seats saw the films back to front! It closed in May 1924 and remained empty, becoming derelict in the 1930s. Later is became a clothing factory.

Baths Hall Cinema

High Street

From 1900 until around 1912 films were shown at the Walthamstow Baths Hall. Edward Turner, founder of Britain's first film rental company, ran the programme for seven years. The baths were demolished in 1968.

Carlton Cinema Theatre AKA Carlton Cinema

High Street

Opened November 13, 1913, as a 1,400 seater cinema. In the 1920s it hat its own orchestra and organ. It closed on August 14, 1959, but had a brief new life as part of the Victor Cinema Ltd group until March 28, 1964. It was then converted into a supermarket until it was demolished in 1986.

Empire AKA Cameo AKA Tatler
Hoe Street, Bell Corner
Opened on February 21, 1913, with a resident orchestra. It had seating for 860. It closed on August 31, 1963, and re-opened as a bingo club. Then on April 12, 1970, it became the Tatler Film Club showing mainly blue movies. On August 16, 1981, the Tatler closed and the building became a snooker club and amusement arcade.

Granada AKA Cannon AKA EMD
Hoe Street
One of the most impressive cinemas in the country. See brochure produced for the Diamond Jubilee of the cinema in 1990.

Palace Theatre

High Street

A variety theatre opened in December 1903, it sometimes showed films. Continued as live theatre until 1954. Demolished in 1960.

Prince's Pavilion AKA Prince's

89 High Street

Originally opened in 1910. To get to it you had to use a passageway between shops but in September 1912 it was enlarged to seat 1,000 people. Demolished in May 1930 to make way for the Dominion.

at 324 Hoe Street

Had 606 seats when it was opened in 1911. Originally the entrance was through a house. Between May 1933 and April 1934 it was refurbished and the seating capacity increased to 800. It closed as a cinema in 1940, in 1959 it became a billiard and snooker hall and it is now used for receptions.

Royal Cinema

203 High Street

Opened December 1911 and closed in March 1912.

Savoy AKA Odeon AKA Classic AKA Gaumont AKA Curzon
336 Lea Bridge Road (corner of Church Road).
One of the last operating cinemas and now (2007) one of the last operating bingo halls. Opened December 26, 1928 by Hyman Cohen as a combination cinema and variety theatre. Had 1,795 seats, a John Compton Kinestra organ and was designed by noted cinema architect George Coles, based on his Broadway Cinema in Stratford.

It was the first in the area to show a talking picture (Al Jolson in The Singing Fool) and it introduced Cinemascope in February 1955.

It closed for a month (October 1940) as a result of bomb damage.

In July 1971 the building was converted into a full time bingo club but Classic Cinemas got hold of it intending to turn it into an early version of a multiplex with two cinemas in the former circle area.
In the event only one 435 seat auditorium called the Classic was created out of what had been the circle area. Bingo continued in the former orchestra stalls. The Compton organ was removed from the building and taken to the Town Hall, Louth, Lincolnshire. The Classic closed in 1979 but bingo continued first run by Granada but latterly by Gala Bingo Club.

St James Electric Theatre AKA Super AKA Regent
25 St James Street

Built in 1911 as a 480 seater. Had various ownerships and closures until 1939. Now a dentists.

Victoria HallAKA Victoria Theatre AKA Victoria Picture Theatre

Hoe Street

A public hall opened in May 1887 with 1,000 seats.Refurbished and re-opened as the Victoria Theatre in August 1896. In August 1907 changed its name to the Victoria Hall and became a cinema. Cecil Bernstein, founder of the Granada circuit, took over in the 1920s and demolished it to make way for the Granada Cinema, currently the EMD.

Wood Street Picture Palace AKA Crown Picture PalaceAKA New Crown AKARio

Wood Street

This 800 seater was opened in 1912 and continued under various ownerships until July 8, 1950, when it closed. Re-opened in 1953 as the Rio, a 573 seat cinema, but closed again in 1955. Now the Wood Street Market.

For further information see The Cinemas of Essex by Bob Grimwood (ISBN 0 946406 3 67). There used to be (and may still be) a copy in the reference section of the Walthamstow Central Library.
Also check out the web site Derelictlondon, this is quite confused but it does contain an interesting memory or two. The address is
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