Gaumont State Kilburn

195-199 Kilburn High Road,
London, NW6 7HY

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AUBM1971
AUBM1971 on June 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I was one of the three trainees on the last course for assistant managers starting at the Gaumont State in August 1971. Upon completion I transferred to the Odeon Uxbridge, and then in early 1972 Bill Weir (later manager of the Odeon Leicester Square) who had trained me, requested my return to the State to take over as his AUBM (Assistant Unit Business Manager, i.e. senior of two assistant managers).

Our employer, to be very precise, was Rank Leisure Services Ltd – Theatre Division. We tended to look down our noses somewhat at Top Rank Club Division, whose entrance was in Willesden Lane!

We had one screen, and the traditional Saturday morning children’s show. I once got tangled in the tabs (curtains) on stage and fell over, to great applause. That incident was chronicled in the ‘Kilburn Times’, whose film critic happened to be present collecting material for an article. I have the clipping still.

Four weeks of musicals a year courtesy of the Hornsey Operatic and Harrow Light Opera, who had to transfer to us from the Odeon Golders Green when it ceased to be single screen. I was always told we had the second largest stage in Europe after Drury Lane. Then the ‘Gang Show’ and the fascinating Ralph Reader with his tales of working as a ‘hoofer’ with Jimmy, George and Joan (Cagney, Raft and Crawford). Cinema organ concerts on Bank Holidays.

Walking out of the theatre at night via the stalls and pitch black backstage area illuminated by dim security lights and an usherette’s torch and hoping not to get mugged in the large dark car park after exiting via the stage door.

Getting thumped by a customer – just once.

Memories!

Sorry, I have contributed absolutelynothing about architecture or anything else of relevance, but this place was an important part of my life for a while.

andygarner
andygarner on May 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thanks for posting the ACE pics Woody, the auditorium certainly looks better than it did in it`s bingo days.

woody
woody on May 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

seen here with stalls seating and the proscenium area converted for church services
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Vintage photographs of the Gaumont State Theatre, and its Wurlitzer organ console:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/2216.html

orpheum
orpheum on July 7, 2010 at 5:39 am

Well now that it has reopened what about a few organ concerts.London is currently bereft of venues.I used to go the ATOS concerts each month.Now i have to travel down to Portslade Town Hall once a month.

woody
woody on June 23, 2010 at 4:40 am

finally reopening!!!!
July 10
View link

woody
woody on September 30, 2009 at 6:27 pm

photos from sept 2009 of the interior stripped of all the bingo fittings and smelling damp and musty from two years of being closed but kept very clean by the church who are hoping to reopen in gradual stages by the end of this year
orignal lighting control panel (located just behind the proscenium arch)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3970130290/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969355945/
the auditorium
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969364299/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969368379/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3970151462/
circle lounge, dark and dimly lit felt like something from a david lynch film
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3970147660/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969393083/
telephone rooms
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969384961/
long abandoned toilets off the circle lounge
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3969389255/
main inner lobby
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/3970142976/

issyvb
issyvb on August 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm

My Grandmother performed at the age of 8, as part of the opening week at the Gaumont State, with the girls tap-dancing group ‘The Flavia Galles’. She recalls this time fondly, and i wondered if anybody had any information or photographs from the performance. She said they wore short skirts and red tap shoes with big bows. She thinks there were around 15 girls. They were part of a local dance group, named after their instructor.
If there is any information, it would be very special for us to have some, as it was such a special time in my Grandmother’s life.
Thank you very much,
Isabella (Granddaughter of Teresa nee: Genovese)

woody
woody on March 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

finally some (hopefully good) news on the future of the State
View link

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 6:27 am

Makes my heart jump and sink at the same time.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

This is a view not normally taken of the Gaumont State Theatre. Seen from the cinema car park, it shows the massive back of the stage house and dressing room block. In the distance to the right can be seen the huge tower which is over the main entrance. Photographed in November 2007:
http://flickr.com/photos/92215570@N00/2184878219/

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 4, 2008 at 10:56 am

It has been announced that the magnificent Grade II* Listed Gaumont State Theatre has been purchased by Ruach Inspirational Church of God, who have their current base in Brixton, south London. This is the UK branch of the Ruach Ministries, evangelical church.

While this is ‘sort of’ good news, in that the building won’t be left empty and rotting away, concerns are that public access could now be compromised, and it will only be evangelical Christians who will be admitted, to enjoy the building. Will the Wurlitzer organ be maintained to playable condition, as it currently is?. Will the building be available for inspection on the annual ‘Open House’ architectural days, as it has been in recent years?.

I presume that the matter will now go to Brent Council to approve a change of use to a Grade II* Listed building. When the UCKG church purchased the EMD Cinema (former Granada) Walthamstow, permission to change of use to a church was refused and the building has remained empty for the past five years.

If planning applications are approved, Kilburn High Road will then have three former cinemas in religious use;the Grange Cinema(2,028 seats-Grade II Listed) is now a UCKG church, the Maida Vale Picture House (1,001 seats -Grade II Listed) is now a Mosque, plus the Gaumont State Kilburn?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm

The Cheatles (a Beatles tribute band) play on the stage of the Gaumont State after the final session of Mecca Bingo (closing night Sunday 19th August 2007). Stick with it as there are shots of the auditorium towards the end:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9awA7ZDlQss

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 14, 2007 at 7:45 pm

A short video of the last concert on the Wurlitzer organ:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_XMyvY1M6Q&NR=1

Ian
Ian on October 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm

Two October photos of the State here:–

View link

View link

ADunn
ADunn on August 31, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Dear Sir/Madam,
You might wish to update your website entry for the Kilburn State. The building has, it is believed, just been sold (28 August 2007) by RankMecca PLC to â€" it is rumoured â€" a Bahrain based investment vehicle whose first intentions were rumoured to be a housing development…. Despite repeated requests, RankMeccaâ€\s head of property, one Tony Robinson, has declined to provide any details of who has bought the building and organ.

The building and Wurlitzer organ has grade II* listed status from English Heritage, has a planning designation for entertainment and that is being reconfirmed in the new Local Development Framework â€" which makes precisely no mention of housing on this site. There is just about zero chance of Brent Council agreeing to any change in planning designation and I would imagine the same response from English Heritage. The question has to be asked what the intentions are of the new owners and when they will identify themselves?

There is a question mark over the organ â€" notwithstanding the listed status applying to the organ as well. The Chief Engineer employed by RankMecca has been made redundant and there are no longer any technical staff at the State to keep it on a care and maintenance basis. Unless there is regular maintenance to the leather bellows of the pipes, these will start to dry and will then crack, rendering them useless.

Here and now, there is an online petition organised by a local resident http://savethekilburnstate.blogspot.com/ and I would encourage you to distribute this to your members, subscribers and enthusiasts so that they too can add their names. The State is a rare architectural gem in the area with the added bonus of the magnificent Wurlitzer. It simply must not be imperilled.

On behalf of Kilburn residents and lovers of the State, I would appreciate your assistance.

Regards,

Anthony Dunn
LibDem councillor for Kilburn Ward (London Borough of Brent)
Garden Flat,
44 Montrose Avenue,
LONDON NW6 6LB
Tel: 020 8962 0443
Email: .uk

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on August 29, 2007 at 9:23 pm

The lobby lights are still on!

woody
woody on August 28, 2007 at 7:57 am

stripped of its mecca signage, lots of fitting piled up in the lobby but no signs that the building has been secured. Whats the chances of it being victim to vandalism and illegal rave clubbing nights
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/1226291019/

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on August 20, 2007 at 3:36 pm

My American organist friend, the late GENE GAYNOR of San Francisco, made some live and BBC radio recordings of the Gaumont State Wurlitzer of which I have on Reel-to-Reel tapes.

All are “historic,” many in stereo, boxed in excellent condition with title listings, some pictures and facts, etc., and are now
FOR SALE.
I also have numerous other Reel-to-Reel & Cassette archive recordings of British cinema-theater organs!
If interested, please write to my personal e-mail address for further info-to-know:
Simon Overton:

andygarner
andygarner on August 20, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Hope that Mecca seal the building up tight whilst the future is uncertain, so that no illegal raves can take place with all the damage that is associated with these events.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on August 19, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Did the closeing last niht come about fast?

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on August 19, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Sorry, just read it . Thank God.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on August 19, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Whats next for the building Ken? Is it protected?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 19, 2007 at 3:22 pm

The Mecca Bingo Club which operated out of the former Gaumont State Cinema closed on Sunday 19th August 2007.

olivercurry
olivercurry on August 19, 2007 at 10:11 am

The Kilburn State is under threat!

When it opened in 1937, The Kilburn State — a Grade II* listed building — was the biggest auditorium in Europe, with seating for 4,004 people. Since then, The State has played host to a galaxy of stars — The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, George Formby, Deep Purple, and many many more. And for the past 20 years, The State has been run by Mecca Bingo.

But now Mecca is selling up. The State is closing, and its future is in the balance.

An application to turn The State into a live music venue has hit a snag… and property developers have pounced. There’s a danger that these developers will deliberately allow the The State decay, and then, when it is beyond repair, tear it down to build flats.

Don’t let The Kilburn State be destroyed! Join the campaign to save it from the developers, and to return it to its former glory as a vibrant cultural centre in the heart of London.

What you can do:

  1. Sign the petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savethekilburnstate/).
  2. Pass on this email.
  3. Ask your political representatives to get involved: Sarah Teather MP (), Dawn Butler MP (), Glenda Jackson MP (), Claude Moraes MEP (); Robert Blackman GLA (.uk): Kilburn Councillors Mary Arnold (.uk), Anthony Dunn (.uk), Derek Jackson (.uk).
  4. Write to the papers: The Kilburn Times (http://www.kilburntimes.co.uk), Ham & High (http://www.hamhigh.co.uk).
  5. Write to Rank, the current owners: (http://www.rank.com).
  6. Keep an eye on the campaign blog (http://www.savethekilburnstate.blogspot.com).

Your help will be invaluable in saving The State.

Thank you in advance,

Oliver
http://www.savethekilburnstate.blogspot.com

For more information on The State, see:
View link
http://www.brent-heritage.co.uk/gaumont.htm
/theaters/1478/

For photos of The State, see:
View link