ABC Forest Hill
11-21 London Road,
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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 on 9th May 2001 as part of the J.D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs and is now called “The Capitol”. In September 2014, it was announced that J.D. Wetherspoon are planning to close the Capitol pub. It is not known what will happen to the building.
The Capitol is a Grade II Listed building.
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