Curzon Chelsea Cinema

206 King's Road,
London, SW3 5XP

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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 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 are two Art Deco style panels again by Newbury A. Trent which depict “The Awakening of Science to the Force of the Elements” and “The Harvesting of the Elements in the Film”.

The cinema became the Gaumont Theatre from 1937 and was modernised in 1960. It 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”.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

jeremyb on May 26, 2009 at 7:52 am

The Compton organ has been installed in the theatre part of Watford Town Hall, Hertforshire (known as “The Colosseum”) for many years.It was restored to playable condition in 2008, but sees little regular use.

woody on February 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

fab shot on a sunny day in january 2010 just as an immaculate 1960’s riley one point five zoomed past
View link

glyn_lewis on November 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The opening ceremony in 1934 was performed by Cary Grant.

Max the Movie Kid
Max the Movie Kid on October 14, 2014 at 3:09 pm

This cinema is at risk of being closed down on 21st October.

SethLewis on November 1, 2014 at 5:20 am

Saved by a great community effort

As Philip Knatchbull of Curzon put it…if you take it away you will not get it back

Robbie25646 on November 1, 2014 at 6:33 am

I am so pleased that this cinema has been saved. I was assistant manager here way back in the mid nineteen-seventies and loved the place. I was known then as Robin Brewer.

cultman1 on January 3, 2016 at 2:12 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 on January 4, 2016 at 12:35 pm

this article may be the recent plans, for a triplex including a new 400 seat main auditorium-

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