Granada Wandsworth Road

128-130 Wandsworth Road,
London, SW8 2LD

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Originally on this site had been the 850 seat Clock Tower Cinema (1921-1936). It was being programmed by Bernstein Theatres in the early 1930’s and was purchased by them and demolished in 1936.

The Granada Theatre was opened by Granada Theatres Ltd. on an enlarged site. Opening day was 13th October 1936 with the films Gracie Fields in "Queen of Hearts" and Lew Ayers in "Trapped by Wireless". Attending the opening in person were film stars Sydney Howard, Sally Eilers and Rod la Rocque.

This Granada was the only cinema designed by architects E.D. Lyons, L. Israel and C.H. Elsom, who had won a design competition in 1934 for Wolverhampton Town Hall & Assembly Rooms. The facade has a brick tower over the entrance, which had a vertical fin sign with theatres name on it. The entire facade was brick with slim horizontal bands of white stone and and two rows of six small windows. Inside the foyer was rather plain and stark, whilst in the auditorium the seating was provided for 1,360 in the stalls and 736 in the balcony. There were large panels of coffered squares on each side of the proscenium, behind which were the organ chambers. On the side-walls were decorative motifs depicting musical instruments, the work of sculptor Frank Barnes. The theatre was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3Manual/8Rank organ which was opened by Harry Farmer. There was also a fully equipped stage and dressing rooms, but initially these were rarely used.

The Granada was closed on 12th November 1940 when it was damaged by German bombs. Repairs were made, but before it could re-open it was severly damaged by bombing in May 1941. It remained closed and after the war repairs and restorations were carried out and it re-opened on 12th September 1949.

Film programmes continued until the early 1960’s when bingo sessions were introduced on a couple of nights a week in 1962 and 1963. The last films were shown on 13th May 1965 with the double bill; Kenneth Connor in "Carry On Nurse" and Christopher Lee in "Devil Ship Pirates". The building was immediately converted into a full time Granada Bingo Club.

The bingo club closed in April 1977 and it became a skate-board centre for a while. It then lay empty and derelict for several years until by 1986, it was gutted internally and re-opened as the London South Bank Squash and Fitness Club, today known as the Southbank Club.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Johnllon
Johnllon on January 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm

You can see the back of this building on the trains in/out of Waterloo. I have always noticed that this cinema has no flytower. Did it have one before the 1941 bomb detroyed the stage end? As it is decribed as having a fully equiped stage.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 24, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I cant wait for someone to post some pics, John, can you get one next time your on that train?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 28, 2010 at 9:07 am

A vintage 1949 photograph of the Granada, and the console of its Wurlitzer organ:
http://www.ukwurlitzer.co.cc/2197.html

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