ABC Harrow

Sheepcote Road,
Harrow, HA1 2JN

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Granada Cinema

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Located in Harrow, Middlesex in the north of Greater London. The Granada Theatre was built for Sydney Bernstein’s Granada Theatre’s circuit and opened on 25th October 1937 with Gracie Fields in "The Show Goes On" and Ruby Keeler in "Ready Willing and Able" The opening ceremony was performed by film stars Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale. The Wurltzer 3Manual/8Ranks (with Grand Piano) theatre organ was opened by Harry Farmer.

The exterior was rather plain and the brickwork was broken up by the placement of a large window which allowed light into the cafe/restaurant that was located above the entrance. Inside the auditorium, the decoration was considered to be a ‘standard Granada’ type with three sets of grilles in the side-walls close to the proscenium opening and a large feature in the ceiling from which hung a ‘Granada’ style chandelier. All this was the work of noted interior designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. There was a stage which was used only occasionally in the early days, but became more used in later years when ‘pop’ shows were touring the circuit. There was no flytower available for scenery, but there were four dressing rooms.

The Granada Theatre was one of the most profitable on the circuit at one time and in November 1973 it was converted into a 3-screen cinema. The 630 seat balcony screen used the main proscenium and retained the facilities of the Wurlitzer organ for concerts. Extra seating could be used in the former front stalls for overflow purposes. The rear stalls area under the balcony was converted into two mini screens, each seating 205.

It was taken over by Cannon Cinemas in January 1989 and re-named Cannon. In July 1995 Virgin Cinemas took control and the name changed to Virgin, but this was short lived as from 3rd May 1996 ABC Cinemas took control and it was re-named ABC. Six months later the ABC closed, due to the new Warner multiplex opening in the centre of Harrow. The closing on 7th November 1996 was marked by an organ concert with David Warner playing the Wurlitzer and the final film Ewan McGregor in "Brassed Off".

The building was boarded up for several years until plans could be arranged for a suitable use. Eventually after much debate and hesitation, permission was granted to convert the building into a health club and gymnasium. The proviso being;the Wurlitzer organ should be retained and made available to be played to the public. A small swimming pool was built in the former rear stalls area under the balcony and the balcony was re-stepped to provide room for gym equipment. There is a fold-down screen in the proscenium opening so that video images can be projected to the members of Golds Gym while they ‘work out’.

From 4th August 1988, the Granada Theatre was given a Grade II Listed building status by English Heritage.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ian
Ian on September 8, 2007 at 4:32 am

The Harrow Granada still open in this 1978 shot:

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Ian
Ian on January 1, 2008 at 8:55 am

More shots inside and out – can be seen here, taken in 1989:–

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 30, 2010 at 4:46 am

Vintage photographs of the Granada, and it Wurlitzer organ console:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/2217.html

KitGreen
KitGreen on October 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I saw an orchestral concert here in the mid 1960s. A school outing. Did not see any films here

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