Cineworld Cinema - Chelsea

279 Kings Road,
London, SW3 5EW

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Cineworld Cinema - Chelsea

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the west London district of Chelsea at an area of Kings Road known as World’s End. The building was constructed and opened in 1910 as the Palaseum Rink and Picture Palace. Films were viewed from a 200 seat balcony, presumably when there was not a roller-skating session in progress. This was a short lived venture as by 1911 plans had been passed in May 1911 for architect A.W. Hudson to convert the building into a full time cinema and it re-opened on 5th October 1911 as the King’s Picture Playhouse with a seating capacity of 964.

It continued until a short closure in early-1943 when it re-opened as the Ritz. It was re-modeled by architect C. Edmond Wilford in 1949 and it became the Essoldo Chelsea. The original decorative facade was smoothed over and raised slightly which gave the building a plainer look.

It was modernised again in 1968 with a reduced seating capacity of 432 (the circle was abandoned) and in 1972 it became the Classic Curzon Cinema Chelsea (Classic already operated the original Classic Cinema further along Kings Road), but it closed in 1973.

The empty and rather dilapidated former cinema was converted into the King’s Road Theatre and was the perfect setting for the original record breaking run of the cult stage musical “The Rocky Horror Show” starring Tim Curry which had originally opened at the Royal Court Theatre, then transfered to the former Classic Cinema on King’s Road. It ran at the King’s Road Theatre until 1979 to packed houses and then transfered to London’s West End at the Comedy Theatre.

The building was then converted back into a cinema, now with four screens and re-named Classic 1-2-3-4 Chelsea (the other Classic Cinema on Kings Road had closed) from April 1980, nothing remained of the original interior decoration. It has continued under further managment take-overs as the Cannon, MGM, Virgin and most recently UGC Chelsea until the July 2005 takeover by Cineworld UK.

In December 2012, plans were announced to close and demolish the Cineworld to build a new Everyman Cinema on the site, but the planning application was refused. The Cineworld closed on 9th March 2017.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

cultman1 on January 21, 2017 at 7:26 am

GPM10 is this therefore going to be demolished and become bijou flats with Everyman Cinema taking over?

cultman1 on February 23, 2017 at 7:28 am

I assume Cineworld Chelsea is still closing in a couple of weeks time?

Zappomatic on February 23, 2017 at 7:30 am

I believe that’s the plan. I’m going to miss this cinema; the two larger screens upstairs are actually pretty decent and it’s been well maintained, and staff are friendly. However I won’t miss the uncomfortable, narrow seats with hard armrests (which nearby Cineworld Fulham Road is also afflicted with) and the screen in the basement is comically small for the size of the auditorium.

With Ealing long since demolished, Hammersmith gone, Chelsea closing and Haymarket transferring to Empire (although this seems to have gone very quiet), this could leave only Fulham Road as the last of the slightly oddball rump of non-purpose built multiplexes Virgin kept when they bought MGM. Kind of a shame as they have their own quirky 90s style.

cultman1 on February 23, 2017 at 7:33 am

agreed Zappomatic. And we have the Curzon Chelsea closing soon for yet more flats etc The greedy property developers are out of control

Billy on March 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Seating capacities at closure were 205, 226, 113 and 104.

The films shown on the final day are confirmed to be ‘Kong: Skull Island’, ‘Hidden Figures’, ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ and ‘Logan’. Plans were made to show a series of classic films on the day of closure, including ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ which would have been perfect given the site’s history, but sadly it wasn’t able to happen.

A small if friendly cinema I’ve been proud to call my place of work for the last several months, and as the many hundreds of customers who watched ‘La La Land’ here in recent weeks will prove, a popular site until the very end. King’s Road and its residents will miss it greatly.

Zappomatic on March 9, 2017 at 4:17 am

An interesting account by someone whose mother worked there when she was a child:

It’s a shame no pictures seem to exist of the interior of this cinema over the years, as I’d love to see what the bar looked like. Wonder which operator took it out? In my mind I’m picturing the foyers as a sea of brown and orange, for some reason!

Zappomatic on March 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm

So it’s finally closed, with little fanfare. No message on the readograph, just a backlit poster outside and one or two inside plus film time screens occasionally showed a “That’s all folks” slide.

All food and drink was 25% off with no fountain drinks available at the lower kiosk and no hot dogs at the upper kiosk (I bought a popcorn combo so had to take my receipt upstairs – Coke Zero had run out so I settled on a Diet Coke which turned out to be almost flat).

One slide before the film advising the cinema was closing today and inviting customers to use Fulham Road or Leicester Square – perhaps rather telling that there was no mention of Haymarket? Once that goes then that’s all elements of ex-Classic cinemas gone from the Cineworld gene pool.

A few customers chatting to staff about what happens to them (employment at other sites) and thanking them.

Billy on March 10, 2017 at 8:20 am

A gallery of the cinema on its final day of service, including screens, AV and staff areas.

cultman1 on March 13, 2017 at 4:07 am

end of an era. How long till it gets pulled down and rebuilt as The Everyman?

GPM10 on April 6, 2017 at 3:45 am

Thanks Billy, for the great final gallery. Sad to see it go (forgot how good the two main screens were) and it has the distinction for me of being one of only two places in London where I actually watched a firm in an otherwise empty cinema – a Screen 4 showing of “Daddy’s Dyin, Whose Got The Will” starring Dolly Parton, many years ago.

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