Embassy Cinema

194 Tottenham Court Road,
London, W1T 7LQ

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The Embassy Cinema was built for independent operators Montague Cohen and Arnold Michaels. It was located immediately to the north of Heal & Sons department store.

The cinema had a narrow entrance with the auditorium running parallel to Tottenham Court Road behind retail premises, the screen end backing onto Torrington Place. All seats were on a single floor which was well raked to give a good view of the screen and it was said that there could have been 200 more seats, but that would have compromised the viewing experience.

The building was ready for opening in early September 1939, but this had to be delayed due to the outbreak of World War II, when initially all places of public entertainment were ordered to close. This was a temporary measure and was lifted, so the Embassy Cinema finally opened on 25th September 1939 with Annabella in “Hotel du Nord”.

As the war deepened the German bombing raids became worse and the Blitz on London was in full swing in late September 1940 and like many other cinemas and public buildings it closed temporarily. The ‘temporarily’ became ‘permanent’ when the building was badly damaged by a particulary heavy German air raid on the night of 14/15th October 1940 – it never re-opened.

Eventually (after the war) the site became an extension to Heal & Sons department store. The Embassy had the shortest life of any of the central West End cinemas of London – one year and twenty days in operation.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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