Gaumont Clapham

146 High Street,
London, SW4 7UH

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Showing 19 comments

spencerphobbs on November 24, 2013 at 4:22 am

Very interested in the previous comment by Delboy2kent who states that he worked as sound engineer in the Majestic Recording Studio occupying the former balcony/upper parts of the former Majestic Cinema in 1970. I have put together a detailed illustrated history of the Majestic/Gaumont for eventual inclusion in a Lambeth Cinemas book, but am still lacking accurate information on the recording studio/bingo hall conversion with which you can hopefully help. I wonder if you could contact me directly at some stage, on , as I would be very interested in discussing this and your time at the building with you. The bingo club appears to have opened first, in May 1969, whilst the recording studio seems to have followed a year later, in late 1970 according to another internet source and had its entrance from the side street. As regards Chaplin having had some earlier financial interest in the Majestic, there is possibly some truth in this yet to be fully investigated – I was informed by the current nightclub owners that the name Charles Chaplin appears on the title deeds for the property, although I’ve no further confirmation as to this. Would love to hear from you Delboy2kent re your memories of the studio if you could please get in touch.

Delboy2kent on October 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm

If anyone is interested I was the sound engineer at Majestic recording studios which was a conversion in the balcony at the rear of the old Gaumont cinema …i worked there in 1970 and recorded many British hit records. I have many memories if anyone is interested.

regalritzy1 on April 9, 2011 at 9:22 am

A very interesting site, but perhaps a bit more careful research or fact finding would not go a miss before information is posted on it! Sorry, I’m probably just moaning! To correct some of the multiple errors, firstly bingo didn’t cease in 1989 as is stated….the place had actually been converted into a second Cinatra’s nightclub (after the one at Croydon) four years earlier than that, in 1985. I beleive bingo ceased in either 1983 or 1984…I am still trying to track the date! The Majestic recording studio (where Adam Faith and David Bowie apparently both recorded albums) was not on the stage at all, it was upstairs at balcony level, whilst the rest of the auditorium was converted into the Majestic bingo club. Again, what is now clear, is whether this is when the building was horizontally divided by the insertion of a new front to rear floor…the original balcony on its own only seated some 350 (and was known to staff as the “jury box”), so on its own would appear to have been too small for a recording studio. The actress mentioned as attending the opening actually performed the opening ceremony (she was also an early film actress), whilst the original owner was Walter Hyman, who also owned the Majestic in Tottenham Court Road and was associated with the Grand Centrals circuit. I also beleive the organ console was actually on a lift, and not a fixed console.

hparker on January 15, 2008 at 4:42 am

The recording studio referred to above was called Majestic Studios and it was still functioning in the early eighties when I visited it although I seem to remember it was situated on the balcony rather than the stage. I’m pretty sure the jazz rock group Shakatak recorded there. They are still going so I’m sure they could confirm this.

charthestar on January 13, 2008 at 1:53 pm

That’s great, thanks for that, I’ll email Clive tomorrow, thanks Ken!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Contact the CTA Archivist; Clive Polden and I am sure he will be able to advise what material we hold. Mention my name (Ken Roe), Cinema Treasures and your purpose etc.
Good Luck with your research.

Nothing in the immediate ‘pipeline’ planed for the CTA to visit the former Majestic.

charthestar on January 13, 2008 at 12:31 pm

I’ve just looked at the site Ken and it’s really interesting. I was reading about the archive, and would love to know if the Association has any info on this particular cinema, perhaps photos or documents from its early days?

The reason I’m so interested is because I’m a journalist and I’m currently writing a monthly column for a magazine called Family History Monthly, about my research into my family tree. Each month I focus on a different person in my family, so I’m currently researching Arthur Lawrence, born 1891, who is my great grandmother’s brother.

If you could tell me how I go about enquiring about the archive that would be fantastic, and I will of course mention you in my column! Also, just on the off chance, I noticed you do visits to cinemas, will the Majestic be visited anytime soon do you know?

Thank you.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 13, 2008 at 11:02 am

You are welcome Charlie. I am a founder member of the Cinema Theatre Association

charthestar on January 13, 2008 at 10:49 am

Thanks for your speedy comment Ken! I think you’re right, he must have been an owner. Apparently the incident is mentioned in Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography, so I’m going to go and buy one and have a read.

How do you know so much about the cinema out of interest? I’m amazed it is now Infernos, until recently I spent most Saturday nights in there dancing! I couldn’t believe it when I found out it was the cinema I’d heard about.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 13, 2008 at 9:36 am

Hello Charlie. Sorry, but no, I don’t know of Arthur Lawrence. The Chaplin stunt was in the early 1920’s when he must have been one of the owners of the owning company; Majestic (Clapham) Ltd. Nice to hear that the story is still famous in your family.

charthestar on January 13, 2008 at 9:13 am

Hello all. This is really fascinating, as I have been doing research on the cinema. A relative of mine used to own the cinema, or have shares in it, and the tale of the Charlie Chaplin kidnap is famous in my family! He was called Arthur Lawrence, and was married to a lady called Violet. I don’t have much information about him, but do you recall him Keith by any chance, or have you come across him Ken?

Keith on November 8, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Here’s the photograph: View link

Keith on November 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

I did my training as a projectionist at the Majestic Clapham. In those days (circa 1958) I was just 16 years old. The Chief projectionist was Derek Palmer. The senior 2nd Projectionist was Geof Moore, and the third Projectionist was Denis Doran, the son of the Chief of Staff. I have a photograph taken of the staff in the Foyer of the 1958/59 Christmas party. I will upload it to my flicr site and post it later.

hparker on May 22, 2007 at 12:04 am

How fascinating. Thank you Ken.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 21, 2007 at 9:46 am

I can’t find any reference to Charlie Chaplin ever having a financial involvement in the Majestic Theatre. Of course he was involved in the United Artist’s Company (film-makers-distributors and exhibitors) together with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks etc.

However, here is what I found out about an incident at the Majestic Theatre, Clapham……The manager of the Majestic Theatre in the 1920’s was a gentleman named Castleton Knight. He arranged a stunt to create publicity for the cinema in either 1921 or 1922. The plan was to kidnap Charlie Chaplin whilst he was on a visit to the U.K. He dressed as a chauffeur and drove to Croydon Airport (London’s main airport in those days) pretending to be Chaplin’s driver. He picked up Charlie and drove him to the Majestic Theatre where, obviously Chaplin fell in with the spirit of the stunt, as he gave the only speech he made to a cinema audience in the U.K.

hparker on May 21, 2007 at 7:19 am

Did Charlie Chaplin once own or part own this cinema?

hparker on May 21, 2007 at 7:18 am

i haeard that Charlie Chaplin once owned or had a share in the Majestic – can anyone tell me if this is true?

Harry Parker

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 9, 2005 at 12:18 am

A photograph of the decorative exterior of the former Majestic/Gaumont Clapham in use as Southside nightclub several years ago:
View link