Safari Cinema

1-2 Station Road,
Harrow, HA1 2TU

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Safari Cinema

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Built for promotors W.C. Dawes & A. Bacal for the independent Hammond Dawes circuit, the Dominion Cinema opened on 9th January 1936 with an original seating capacity of 2,500. The magnificent Art Deco style facade consisted of numerous alcoves with columns, windows which curved around corners and the name ‘Dominion’ set above the entrance which was backlit from a recess. Again this was one of architect Frank Ersnest Bromige’s masterpieces in Art Deco/Art Moderne styling.

Inside the building, the auditorium was considered ‘rather plain’ compared to the flambouyant exterior. It did have side-walls which were devoid of decoration, but redeemed itself with a stepped ceiling which contain troughs of concealed lighting. It had a 61 feet wide proscenium opening, a stage 29 feet deep and because the building was designed for films and variety stage shows there were 12 dressing rooms. The Dominion Cinema didn’t have an organ to entertain its patrons, but it did have a cafe.

Only one month after opening, it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) and they continued to operate it for many years, continuing for a while with the mixed film and variety policy of programming.

In 1962 it was re-named ABC and it was around this time that the beautiful Art Deco facade was covered over in metal cladding, which remains on the building today.

In March 1972 the ABC closed with Trevor Howard in "Ryan’s Daughter" which was the last film to be screened in the original auditorium. It was divided into two units, the former stalls area became a bingo club and a 612 seat cinema was made of the former circle which re-opened on 4th June 1972. On 6th August 1981 the former cafe was converted into a second screen known as ABC 2 with 133 seats.

In the mid-1980’s the ABC chain were taken over by Cannon Cinemas and the building was re-named Cannon. It remained open screening mainstream films until June 1995 when it was taken over by an independent operator and re-named Safari Cinema, screening ‘Bollywood’ Indian films and it continues in that use today. A Gala Bingo Club remains open in the former stalls area.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 5, 2007 at 9:00 am

A vintage photograph of the Dominion Cinema in 1936:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/220051266/
Architect;Frederick E. Bromige, original concept drawing of the Dominion:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/220019316/
The cover-up:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/220019315/
As the Cannon Cinema in the late 1980’s:
http://flickr.com/photos/12494104@N00/213273406/
Two recent photographs of the Safari Cinema:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/220019314/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/220010913/

Ian
Ian on January 1, 2008 at 8:57 am

Some more pictures, inside and out, can be found here:–

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 1, 2010 at 2:41 am

The Safari Cinema, photographed in March 2010:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oiomar/4474349246/

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