Curzon Chelsea Cinema

206 King's Road,
London, SW3 5XP

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Gaumont Palace, Chelsea

Located in the southwest London inner city district of Chelsea. This huge cinema building first opened on 8th December 1934 as the Gaumont Palace. It was built on the site of the studios and laboratory of film pioneer William Friese-Greene.

Designed by Gaumont/Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) architects William E. Trent and Ernest F. Tully it had a seating capacity of 2,502. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/13Rank theatre organ that had an illuminated console. It had a fully equipped 30ft deep stage with flytower, a large scene dock, property room, rehearsal room and eight dressing rooms. There was also a 150 seat cafe which has its own entrance.

Notable decorative features on the facade of the building are a sculpted bas- relief head of Friese-Greene with masks of comedy and tragedy on either side, that are positioned high up on the facade. These are the work of designer Newbury Abbot Trent who was the younger brother of the architect Wiilliam E, Trent. On the lower section on each side of the entrance were two Art Deco style panels again by Newbury A. Trent which depicted “The Awakening of Science to the Force of the Elements” and “The Harvesting of the Elements in the Film” (these have either been removed or rendered over).

The cinema became the Gaumont Theatre from 1937 and was modernised in 1960. The Compton organ was removed from the building at this time and was installed in Watford Town Hall and is now installed in Watford Colosseum. The Gaumont Theatre was re-named Odeon from 7th January 1963 and closed on 11th March 1972 with Sean Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever”.

The foyer and stalls area was converted into a Habitat furnishing store while the former stage area was converted into flats and offices. A new Odeon Cinema seating 739 was created in the former balcony area, using the former cafe entrance as its access. It opened on 9th September 1973 with Roger Moore in “Live and Let Die”. The Odeon closed on 21st November 1981 with Tim Curry in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein”.

The cinema remained closed for almost two years until the independent art house group Artificial Eye took it over and re-named it the Chelsea Cinema. It re-opened it on 15th September 1983 with Gerard Depardieu in “Danton”.

There were special screenings of David Hemmings in “Blow-Up” (1966) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni on 30th March 2018 and “Stalker” (1979) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky on the afternoon of 31st March 2018. The Curzon Cinema Chelsea closed on the evening of 31st March 2018 with the New York Met Opera performance of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutti”. Special prices for the film performances were £5.00 and £8.00 for Pullman seats which included a beer, wine or soft drink. The regular admission prices at closing were £16.00 and £18.00 for Pullman seats. The building will be demolished apart from the Art Deco style facade. Three new screens (one with 400-seats) will be built as part of the new apartment building on the site, and are due to open in 2022.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

cultman1
cultman1 on January 3, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Not necessarily saved… Parisite Property Developers have been given permission to demolish the building and put up flats etc in its place with a proviso for anunderground cinema of sorts. Cadogan Estates successfully appealed and once again big business has been allowed to overrule what little is left of our Kings Road heritage.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 4, 2016 at 10:35 am

this article may be the recent plans, for a triplex including a new 400 seat main auditorium- http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/revamped-cinema-planned-kings-road-9481124

Zappomatic
Zappomatic on February 23, 2017 at 11:40 am

Noticed the cinema is advertising itself as “London’s biggest screen outside the West End”. Not sure by what metric though as it’s eclipsed in both screen size and seating capacity by Cineworld at the O2. Biggest screen in Central London outside the Wet End? Biggest Curzon screen outside the West End?

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Anyone know how large the screen actually is here? I’ve only visited 2ce, both “flat” movies. There’s photos here of the screen set to flat. Maybe at a “scope” movie, someone can photo?

thomastace
thomastace on March 27, 2018 at 7:05 am

This cinema is closing on March 31st. It will reopen as a 3 screen cinema in 2022 with approx 600 seats across the screens. From the plans it looks like the front of the building is being saved but with all being being rebuilt. Very sad news but with a hint of optimism.

SethLewis
SethLewis on March 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Special £5 shows of Blow Up and Stalker Friday and Saturday to celebrate if possible the end of the Chelsea as we know it…Have tickets for Friday night

Sad news I used to live around the corner and saw some great ones here – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Jamie Eliott, a lot of Woody Allen, Jean de Florette, Short Cuts

Still a difficult neighborhood in which not to have disabled access – the place needed some work! Long live!

SethLewis
SethLewis on March 31, 2018 at 10:38 am

Great atmosphere last night…free drinks and £5 show of Blow-Up This will be missed

Ian
Ian on April 1, 2018 at 2:23 am

Some photos taken on the final afternoon – Saturday 31st March 2018 – before and after the final film “Stalker” (there was a live Met Opera screening in the evening).

EXTERIOR

ENTRANCE

FOYER

AUDITORIUM TO SCREEN

AUDITORIUM TO REAR

CF100
CF100 on July 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm

The main planning applications relating to the redevelopment are:

PP/15/04338 – “Partial demolition and redevelopment of 196-222 King’s Road with a two storey basement excavation, to provide cinema floor space at basement and ground floor level; (etc…)”.

PP/16/04793 – “New plans reflecting proposed changes including the demolition and rebuild of Friese Green House, alterations to the King’s Road elevation, additional basement excavation and provision of additional photovoltaic panels”.

Of particular note here is the document titled “KING’S ROAD HISTORIC BUILDING REPORT JUNE 2015” in the 2015 application, which provides a (somewhat “potted”) history of the site. The original 1930s cinema plans—very beautifully drawn—are included on PDF pp28-34. Alas, the text on these is not quite resolved in this file, being throughly obliterated by aggressive JPEG compression.

Plans for the proposed cinema can be seen in the 2016 application at (basement) levels B2 (Auditoria 2 and 3 – “indicative layout” only) and B1 (Auditorium 1), the larger Auditorum 1 being situated above the two smaller auditoria, as is clearly shown in “PROPOSED SECTION AA.”

The architectural practice responsible for these plans is Paul Davis + Partners.

A scale is conveniently provided, and based on this, I estimate Auditorium 1 to be ~27m deep by ~21m wide, or almost 90ft.x70ft., equating to slightly under 6000sq.ft. in area.

The proposed main auditorium is therefore quite generously proportioned, being about the same size as the “existing” auditorium, if its sidewalls were moved in to form a rectangular auditorium. (The “existing” fanned out to about 105ft. wide at the rear.)

HowardBHaas: Estimating from the demolition plans (2016 application, but they’re probably identical in the 2015 application) — the screen width was probably 40-45ft.

More pure nuggets of tedium may be extracted and summarised here if/when I review more of the planning documents!

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater