1 Town Hall Parade, Brixton Hill,
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The Palladium Picture Playhouse opened on 20th March 1913. It was built for and operated by National Electric Theatres Ltd. The design was by architect Gilbert Booth who gave the building an exterior that matched perfectly the Edwardian splendour of the Brixton Town Hall that it was adjacent to. It’s interior was designed in a flamboyant Neo-Classical style mixed with a Baroque style and had swathes of plaster festooons of garlands, plaster cherubs around the auditorium which gave it the look and feel of a typical British playhouse theatre rather than that of a cinema. The auditorium was wider than it was deep and having a wide proscenium opening was an advantage in later years when wide screen films were introduced. Seating was provided in stalls and balcony levels for a total of 1,200.
In 1923 it was taken over by Suburban Super Cinemas Ltd. and in 1926 it was fitted out with the only Wurlitzer 2Manual/4Rank Model B that was brought over to England. The organ was opened by organist Melbourne Holman.
In October 1929 it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and became the Palladium Cinema. It was closed on 24th April 1956 for the reconstruction of the front of the cinema. Out went the decorative facade and in came a moderne 1950’s look that was quite plain. It re-opened on 24th September 1956 as the Regal Cinema. Seating was now 1,156 with 876 in the stalls and 278 in the balcony. It was re-named ABC Brixton from 20th October 1963 and continued until 23rd October 1977 when it was leased to an Independent operator and re-named Ace Cinema. It closed on 28th March 1981.
It was converted briefly into a concert venue and roller-disco with some occasional film use but a while after closing, part of the auditorium suffered from damage with a fire.
It was repaired and re-opened on 8th June 1985 as a nighclub called The Fridge. Old refrigerator doors were hung on the facade of the building, but the interior was kept intact and painted plain black, which hid all the decorative features.
The Fridge became one of the main alternative nightclubs in London and was particulary successful with its gay themed nights known as the Daisy Chain, Venus Rising (for lesbians only) and Love Muscle XXX where anything and everything happened; until 1999 when the venue went a little more ‘straight’.
In recent years the management have seen the errors of painting the place all black and have embarked on a restoration scheme which has kept the black walls but picked out all decorative details in gold leaf. It continues as a popular nightclub and there are many historic photographs and historic details on The Fridge website given below.
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