161-169 Essex Road,
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Architects: George Coles
Previous Names: Carlton Cinema
News About This Theater
- Jan 15, 2010 — Carlton Islington featured in pop video
Located in the north London inner-city district of Islington. The Carlton Cinema opened on 1st September 1930 with Harold Lloyd in “Welcome Danger”. It was built as a cine-variety theatre for the Clavering and Rose circuit.
Architect George Coles excelled himself with this lavish building which has a magnificent Egyptian style facade dressed in multi-coloured Hathernware tiles. Inside the building the style changes to an Empire style with Egyptian touches in the foyer and then into the auditorium which is a delightful French Renaissance style. Seating was provided in stalls and balcony levels and there was a cafe for patrons which was located above the entrance foyer. The Carlton Cinema was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. It was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank theatre organ that was opened by organist Phil Finch. Full stage facilities were included on the 26 feet deep stage and there were four dressing rooms.
The Carlton Cinema was taken over by Associated British Cinemas Ltd.(ABC) from February 1935. It was re-named ABC in 1962. It closed on 5th August 1972 with Reg Varney in “Mutiny on the Buses”. The building was converted into a bingo club which continued for almost 35 years as the Mecca Bingo Club, until closing in March 2007.
It was purchased by a church, and there were plans to create two small spaces in the rear stalls beneath the circle, while the original circle and front stalls would be used for church services on Sundays. The church also planned to reopen as a cinema, using the circle seating area and converting the former cafe area into a second screen. To date, these plans have not been activated.
Church use began in late-summer 2013 using the stalls only. A white sheet cloth material was installed which stretched across from the underside of the circle to the proscenium. This allowed the heating to be retained in the stalls only. The seats in the circle have been removed. By early-2020, the white sheet cloth material had been removed and the auditorium had been re-painted up to its full height, but the ceiling had not been touched. Sheets of white & blue cloth materials were hung from the ceiling in the front of the circle.
It is a Grade II* Listed building.
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