State Cinema

George Street,
Grays, RM17

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Opened on 5th September 1938 with Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall in “The Hurricane”. The magnificent State Cinema remains a large and unaltered building with seating for 1,400 in the stalls and 800 in the circle. It is equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Ranks organ with Melotone attached. The organ console has a ‘Rainbow’ illuminated surround. The State Cinema has a fully equipped stage and there are 3 dressing rooms. There was a 50-seat restaurant in the circle foyer level. In 1988 the State Cinema was a location shoot for a sequence in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” starring Bob Hoskins. The State Cinema was closed in 1991.

In 1993 the foyer was used for a while as a nightclub named Charleston’s, and the auditorium saw use again on two occasions for concerts by David Essex and Suzi Quatro.

In 2001 Morrisons Supermarket chain purchased the entire building and adjacent car park to use the car park as an extension to their own adjacent car park. In 2006 a property company purchased the building. It has now been unused for over 22 years, and there have been several break-in’s. The Compton organ, projectors and all equipment remain in the building, but during one of the break-in’s organ pipes from the organ chamber under the stage were stolen by metal thieves.

The building is Grade II* Listed and is one of the most endangered buildings on the English Heritage ‘Buildings at Risk’ list.

In October 2015 it was announced the State Cinema had been purchased by the J.D. Weatherspoon chain of pubs.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 3, 2006 at 11:57 am

A fairly recent photograph of the shuttered(15years now) State Cinema:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 1, 2007 at 9:34 am

Two vintage photographs of the former State Cinema, courtesy of the Cinema Theatre Association archives:
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Ian on December 2, 2007 at 12:56 pm

A few more photographs of the State, from circa 1988, before it closed. Interiors and exterior and organ.

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Infernalaffairs on January 8, 2008 at 1:25 pm

I have sent an e-mail to Thurrock Council asking for info and/or help with an idea I had.

There is a cinema museum currently based in London that has to move home and could well cease to be if it can not find suitable new premises. The State Cinema building would be an ideal location. I have e-mailed the museum to confirm that they are still looking for a new home but so far that is it. This would be an ideal opportunity for both parties ( OK, Grays isn’t London but it has a good rail link to and from London).

This would fit in nicely with the planned (if Thurrock Council keep their promise) Thurrock Film Network.

If anyone is interested in helping me with trying to get these and other local projects started, please e-mail me on .uk Thanks.

joey80 on January 10, 2008 at 9:51 am

Anyone interested in helping save this lovely old building please visit my website.

joey80 on January 18, 2008 at 4:51 am

There is now an online petition at

Please sign if you would like to see one of Englands last fully original picture palaces saved from being turned into a health club or some sort or residential property.

TLSLOEWS on April 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Pretty sad slide show posted by speed.

William L. Coale, Ph.D.
William L. Coale, Ph.D. on August 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

Just in from Peter Hammond via Facebook:

Peter Hammond
is rather gutted at the destruction of another cinema organ in its original venue

Quentin Bellamy Which one is that?

Peter Hammond State Grays

Simon Gledhill How has it been destroyed?

Peter Hammond Metal thieves broke in in July and have stolen most of the pipework. They even bent some of the tubas in half and left them on the stage presumably waiting their return to collect them. They also took other metal items in the building I believe. Console and other parts still in situ and OK I believe. We have been lobbying the local authority for ages to make sure the place was secure, especially after the caretaker died earlier this year. A few days ago new security measures were put into place – somewhat late!!! Simon please can the COS join forces with us to demand some action regarding the State?

Simon Gledhill Peter, let’s discuss privately. I will e-mail you.

Peter Hammond OK

Gary Davies This is a disgrace.

Stephen Dutfield It’s terrible news. Do we know what the state of play is with insurance? It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the stolen pipework could be replaced from Compton material available from other sources, although of course it would never be the State organ as it was. I just hope nobody has the idea to dump what’s left of it because the pipes are missing.

Quentin Bellamy What a calamity!

70mmbobbyj on September 12, 2015 at 4:49 am

It appears that the State has now been purchased by JD Weatherspoons. This has been reported on the “save the state” Facebook page.

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