Fulham Road Picturehouse

Fulham Road and Drayton Gardens,
London, SW10 6SD

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ABC Cinema 1

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 to the plans of architectural firm Earle Architects following its closure on 6th October 2019. It was re-named Picturehouse Fulham Road when it re-opened on 8th December 2019. The cinema now boasts two restaurants.

Contributed by Jack Coursey, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

Zappomatic on October 4, 2019 at 12:02 am

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 3:42 pm

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 3:49 pm

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

antovolk on November 20, 2019 at 3:37 pm

“Opening December 2019” signage now up outside.

antovolk on November 22, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Official: opening Friday, December 6.

Billy on December 3, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Opening slightly delayed to Sunday, 8th December.

This was my workplace from 2017 to earlier this year, looking forward to seeing the results of the refurbishment!

antovolk on December 8, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Just been to Screen 2 – the new seating is fantastic, so much legroom and space, even more so than at Picturehouse Central, and reclining backs also in the first few rows!

They’ve really gone all out on making this look fantastic, if you liked what Odeon did at the OLS this goes to a whole other level. Even the screens themselves are beautifully done up, with detailing and I think even curtains in Screen 3! All feels so much more spacious.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 14, 2019 at 3:42 am


terry on December 14, 2019 at 1:49 pm

Another licensed catering establishment with cinemas included for good measure. Seriously though, I suppose this is as good as you are likely to find these days putting aside ‘genuine’ restorations such as the Plaza Stockport, Odyssey St Albans etc.

I don’t know what they think a proscenium arch is but the original ‘pros’,if still in situ, will be concealed behind the subdivision works of 1975 when ABC quadrupled the original theatre.

In screens 1 & 3 there are ‘legs’ at each side of floating screens as opposed to ‘tabs’ (curtains) but at least lip service has been paid in these areas.

I think that if I lived in London I would prefer this venue to most of today’s purpose built multiplexes. The Odeon Theatre Leicester Square, of course, retains the circle/stalls principle (and the Compton organ) which I happen to like – if only they would use their TABS!!

CF100 on March 1, 2020 at 8:39 am

The “Fulham Road Picturehouse is OPEN!” video is also available on YouTube.

Hmm. The foyer/lobby areas are something of a mixed bag. I don’t get this “copper piping” decor… and I wonder what it will look like when it’s not shiny and new?

As for the auditoria, the blue upholstered seating looks very nice and the “legs” (as Terry refers to them) to the sides of certain screens are better than nothing.

However, the wall finishes aren’t obvious from the video, and the “bare” ceilings not only look rough, but need acoustic treatment…

Whatever one might think of the revamped OLS, for example, much effort went into stopping sound from getting in (soundproofing) and stopping sound from bouncing around the auditorium (absorption)—including the cherry veneered wooden panelling (which is actually “perforated” and hides yet more acoustic absorption placed behind.)

It certainly looks like a great deal more effort has gone into the “menu” (and I have no objection to that per se—cinemas certainly need to be “places” rather than simply shuffling patrons in and out of auditoria) rather than the provision of technically excellent standards of presentation, and I can’t imagine paying “premier screen” West End prices to see a film here…

Perhaps Cineworld, with their rollout of laser light source systems, have at least upgraded the projection…?

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