ABC Forest Hill

11-21 London Road,
London, SE23 3TW

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

ABC Capitol Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the southeast London district of Forest Hill. Designed in a Neo-Classical style, the Capitol Cinema was built in 1928-9 for London & Southern Cinemas and designed by noted cinema architect and garden designer John Stanley Beard.

It opened on 11th February 1929 with John Gilbert in “Man Woman and Sin”. As the cinema was designed for silent movies, sound equipment had to be installed soon after opening. It originally had a Compton 2Manual/8Ranks theatre organ which was opened by Edgar Peto. There was also a cafe for the convenience of patrons. The stage was 22 feet deep and with three dressing rooms it allowed for variety shows to be staged.

It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) from July 1933 and they operated it for the remainder of its cinematic life.

Occasional variety shows were part of the programming in the 1950’s and the Compton organ was played until it was removed in the late-1950’s.

It was re-named ABC in December 1968 and closed on 13th October 1973 with Gene Hackman in “Scarecrow” and Gary Grimes in “Class of ‘44”. The building stood empty for several years until it was leased to Mecca Ltd and opened as a Mecca Bingo Club on 23rd February 1978. Bingo ceased in December 1996 and the building again stood empty and unused.

It re-opened in April 2001 as part of the J.D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs and is now called “The Capitol”.

The Capitol is a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Steve Lynch, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

2526
2526 on March 28, 2004 at 7:57 am

i am sorry the organ from the cinema is not at my church this is the wrong cinema.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 30, 2005 at 4:15 pm

The Capitol Cinema opened on 11th February 1929 with the movie “Man, Woman, Sin” starring John Gilbert which was supported by a stage show and organ interlude. The Capitol was re-named ABC in December 1968. After the ABC closed as a cinema on 13th October 1973 (with the double bill “Scarecrow”/“Class of ‘99”), it became a Mecca bingo club which closed December 1996.

It stood unused until the Weatherspoon’s chain of pubs purchased the building and refurbished it into one of their pubs, now called The Capitol. It retains most of the decor of the cinema, both externally and internally.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on April 19, 2007 at 11:39 am

On way to visit Horniman Museum, I spotted this ex-cinema and was astonished to see so many original decor features survive though used as a pub. Couldn’t tell if balcony (circle) is used, but could see it from main floor.

View of exterior, taken April 2007:
View link

View of Proscenium Arch of Auditorium, taken April 2007:
View link

Ian
Ian on February 5, 2008 at 7:41 am

A collection of photos – mostly interiors – here:–

View link

View link

View link

View link

Bean
Bean on September 9, 2008 at 1:51 am

I am researching the history of this place and would like any information available. If you feel you could help please reply to this message. T Bean.

rebeckle
rebeckle on December 12, 2008 at 8:41 am

Hi Bean.
JS Beard (the Architect) was my great grandfather. My grandfather (93 and still going strong) recently finished writing a family history so I might be able to help you out with some info.

Bean
Bean on December 16, 2008 at 3:10 am

Hi rebeckle!

This sounds excellent. Could you please give me a quick call on 07092 173263 with any kind of contact details?

Bean
Bean on December 24, 2008 at 5:11 am

I really want to know where the organ went in the 1950s. Can anybody help?

Bean.

traceyse26
traceyse26 on August 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm

IT WAS A REALLY GOOD PLACE TO GO 1960’S/70’S SATURDAY MORNING PICTURES COSTING SIXPENCE LOADS OF CARTOONS/EPISODES TO SEE IE ZORRO, FLASH GORDON COMPETITIONS + MUSIC IE; DESMOND DECKER & ISraelites ICE CREAM LADIES + ORGAN PLAYING

Ian
Ian on January 27, 2014 at 7:37 am

A few contemporary photos of the Capitol as a Wetherspoons pub here:–

EXTERIOR

FOYER

PROSCENIUM

DETAIL OF BALCONY

AUDITORIUM to REAR

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater