Fulham Road Picturehouse

Fulham Road and Drayton Gardens,
London, SW10 6SD

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ABC Fulham Road

The Forum Theatre opened on 18th December 1930 with Lupez Velez in “The Storm”. Also in the opening bill was a variety stage show starring Clapham & Dwyer with a 24 piece orchestra. The original seating capacity was 2,200 in stalls and circle. The style of decoration was Classical, with Romanesque touches and there was a large 80 feet wide coffered dome in the auditorium ceiling. The side-walls were decorated with pastoral Italian scenes.

The stage was 30 feet deep and the proscenium was 45 feet wide. There were eight dressing rooms and the theatre was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/8Rank organ. The projection box was located in the rear of the orchestra stalls rather than the usual position at the rear of the circle. The Forum Theatre had a circular shaped tea room/cafe located above the main entrance.

It was the first of three theatres to be designed for Herbert A. Yapp’s Wyanbee Theatres, a small circuit located in the north of London. The other two Forum Theatres at Kentish Town and Ealing were also designed by architect J. Stanley Beard for the circuit in 1934. The circuit was sold to Associated British Cinemas (ABC) on 8th April 1935. This cinema was re-named ABC in 1961 and during the 1960’s the Compton organ was removed. In June 1974 it was closed for conversion into a three-screen cinema (one in the circle, two in the stalls) and in early 1975 a fourth screen was added in an adjacent squash court that had been built on the theatre’s car park. In 1977 the circle screen was divided into two screens. In recent years a sixth screen opened above the former squash court screen.

It has gone through several changes in ownership since the demise of ABC Cinemas and is currently operated by Cineworld. This cinema’s features include a beautiful exterior and lobby, along with a very courteous staff. Although all of the trappings of the original auditorium have been scrapped, you can still some of the balcony molding in auditoriums four and five and in the main entrance foyer.

Seating capacities are for 348, 327 in the former circle and 173 in the upper area of the squash court, and 219, 204 in the former stalls and 155 in the lower area of the squash court.

On June 10, 2019, it was announced that the Cineworld Cinema – Fulham Road is to be transfered over to Picturehouse Cinemas (owned by Cineworld) and would undergo a renovation following its closure on 6th October 2019. It will be re-named Picturehouse Fulham Road when it re-opens in December 2019.

Contributed by Jack Coursey, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

terry on July 1, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Photos uploaded of the ABC Fulham Road when it was a ‘proper cinema’ – and, curmudgeon, I agree with all you say…….

CF100 on July 9, 2019 at 3:16 pm


I’m sure the modern day version of ‘refurbishment" will be nothing more than side wall drapery or bare brick/bessamer walls

Somewhat confused by the latter…?

In relation to the former, the current de facto standard sidewall furnishing is stretched fabric—the leading supplier is Eomac.

European Product Technical Specifications.

As the above-linked document says, typical acoustic cores are up to 75mm of rigid mineral wool slab, although greater depths are available.

(Behind which, typically, is “double wall” plasterboard with more acoustic absorption, in this case being for soundproofing.)

Note that the recommended fabric is “100% Polyester Trevira CS”—a quick Google search leads to one vendor selling such type of fabric product at £62/m (140cm wide)—which equates to £45/sq.m.

Of course, these technical aspects do not account for aesthetic preference (and, indeed, these stretched fabric systems can achieve more elaborate decor than “black box” designs, if desired)—but rather to indicate that these systems are hardly a low-cost option, and that “old” cinema designs, at least as originally built, don’t meet today’s performance requirements in terms of controlling reverberation time within an auditorium, nor acoustic isolation of auditoria.

(Granted, the latter is less of a concern in a single screen venue!)

CF100 on July 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm

The planning application to which Zappomatic refers appears to be PP/19/01987.

The architectural practice marked on the documents is “Earle Architects.”

Although the application description mentions external aspects only, plans can be found in the document listed as “EXISTING AND PROPOSED PLANS INCLUDING SITE PLAN.”

(Albeit, not for the basement; the “existing ground floor plan” is marked “SCREEN 6 BELOW — REFER TO BASEMENT PLAN.”)

The document listed as “PLANNING, DESIGN AND ACCESS STATEMENT” includes renderings of the proposed canopy.

Although the “existing” plans appear to have schematic layouts of auditoria seating only, levels are marked, and from this auditoria 1-5 are definitely drawn as restepped, and for auditoria ½, as Zappomatic says, “straightened.”

It also appears that the screens as drawn have been reduced in size (albeit perhaps one should not trust the “existing” plans in this respect.) For auditoria ½, it appears that the screens are have been “straightened,” no long being slanted in. I imagine the projection is proposed to be “boothless,” with ceiling mounted units?

Replacement screens for auditoria 3-5 are ~“scope” ratio, whilst auditoria ½ are ~“flat.”

Alas, I am too tired to continue. Suffice to say that the screens as drawn in Auditoria ¾, with the screen centre being ~70% of the auditorium’s width from the farthest side wall. Above all, with auditoria 2/3 remaining very assymetrical, one side wall of each splayed in—and presumably their (~“flat”) screens will be “floating” with no masking—just too many negative elements.

Without further reconfiguration, there is just no getting past the previous poor quality subdivision, rendering the rebranding exercise nothing if not ironic.

antovolk on July 19, 2019 at 9:13 am

Full press release from Picturehouse – https://spotlight.picturehouses.com/uncategorised/introducing-fulham-road-picturehouse/

PhilipWW on July 20, 2019 at 9:47 am

I find it slightly perverse that two screens will be ‘flat’ considering that the majority of films nowadays are in ‘Scope. To me this is not the 'cinema’ experience at all, it is more like watching an extra large TV set where films are letterboxed onto it.

In fact it is worse than a TV set; there you can watch the correct 2.39 image. Here at the cinema, when ‘Scope films are shown 'flat’, some pixels are not displayed on the sides reducing the ratio down to 2.32.

Of all the cinema chains, Cineworld seems the least concerned at showing films properly. It is reported than some of their recent new cinemas have ‘flat’ screens in all auditoria. Quality technical presentation does not seem to be a high priority for them.

antovolk on August 8, 2019 at 4:39 am

There’s a feature in the new Picturehouse Recommends magazine which is at their venues now. Uploaded a couple of preliminary render images of what I presume is screen 4/5 and the foyer/bar areas from the issue.

Other interesting bit – they found original door handles and ironmongery and other artefacts hidden away in the basement so they’re refurbing and reintegrating them in the doors and more. Based on the renders they really are trying to apply the sort of modern art deco look like the new Odeon Leicester Square… Looks quite great so far.

Zappomatic on October 3, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Closes as a Cineworld on 7 October. No details on Picturehouse website as to when it will reopen as a Picturehouse.

Billy on October 7, 2019 at 7:42 am

Final evening of being a Cineworld was Sunday 6th October 2019, estimated reopening as a Picturehouse sometime in November.

Zappomatic on October 8, 2019 at 7:49 am

Peak adult ticket price to be £16.90 – the same as Picturehouse Central.

antovolk on November 20, 2019 at 7:37 am

“Opening December 2019” signage now up outside.

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