London Pavilion

1 Piccadilly Circus,
London, W1J 0DA

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1964 photo courtesy of the Vintage Point Facebook page.

This large freestanding building opened as a music hall on 30th November 1885. It was designed by architect J.E. Saunders with the exterior designed by R.J. Worley. It was remodeled in 1886 and in 1900 architectural firm Wylson & Long rebuilt the auditorium in a Louis XV style and there were a series of panel picures on the walls by artist J.M. Boekbinder. It closed as a music hall in 1918 and was taken over by C.B. Cochran on 3rd August 1918, operating as a live theatre, presenting musical revues, the first one was titled “As You Were” starring Alice Delysia which ran for 434 performances. In 1932 it presented variety shows until it was closed on 7th April 1934.

In 1934, the interior was gutted and transformed into a cinema to the design of Frederick G. M. Chancellor of the Frank Matcham Company, and Cecil Masey. It was unusual because it retained two balconies in the irregular shaped site. Seating capacities were provided for 716 in the stalls, 242 in the circle and 251 in the balcony. The London Pavilion was operated by United Artists from ts opening as a cinema on 5th September 1934 as their main premiere cinema in London. The opening film was Douglas Fairbanks in “The Private Life of Don Juan”.

On 6th July 1964 the London Pavilion held the World Premiere of The Beatles in “A Hard Days Night”. On 27th July 1965 the Royal World Premiere of “Help!” starring The Beatles drew a crowd of 10,000 fans outside the cinema. On 29th December 1965 the London Pavilion shared a Gala Premiere of Sean Connery in “Thunderball” with the nearby Rialto Theatre. On 18th October 1967 the World Premiere of John Lennon in “How I Won the War” was held here. On 7th August 1968 the European Premiere of “The Graduate” starring Anne Bancroft & Dustin Hoffman was held here. On July 17, 1968 The Beatles “Yellow Submarine” had its World Premiere here.

It closed on April 26, 1981 and despite some pleas to have it returned to theatre usage, the London Pavilion was sold and all but the outside walls demolished to have a shopping mall constructed inside.

There were plans to have been two replacement cinemas located on the top floor, but no one seemed interested in operating them and the spaces were converted into Madame Tussaud’s Rock-and-Roll wax museum.

After many years as a failed shopping centre combined with the next-door Trocadero Centre, five floors inside the building were converted into a ‘Ripley’s – Believe It, or Not’ ‘odditorium’ exhibiton space in August 2008.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on December 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Loved the BEATLES history and of Course,007 ad.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on February 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I just added a color 1964 photo from the “A Hard Day’s Night” premiere, courtesy of the Vintage Point Facebook page.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

1949 photo added courtesy of Richard Thurbin.

goodshow
goodshow on October 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Photo added of presentation at the Pavilion to accompany the post of MoviesWithDad on 1st July 2014. Not well received critically, the Pavilion showing lasted a mere 10 days, from 19 March to 1st April, 1970

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

1939 photo added credit S&G Barratts.

cultman1
cultman1 on August 11, 2016 at 2:26 am

the Pavilion (or what is left of it) and local area is total tat now and decaying badly .It is a real shame the lanlords cant get rid of the cheap shops and rubbish outlets and refurbish this magnificent grade 2 listed building.

PROJIE
PROJIE on June 20, 2018 at 6:06 am

The cinema also screened Tom Jones, which had a long run there.

vindanpar
vindanpar on July 18, 2018 at 4:20 am

When I was in London this was playing King Kong(Jan ‘77 I believe). I had no interest in seeing the film so I didn’t go in. How I regret it! What a fa├žade it had and I love the Yellow Submarine.

HJHill
HJHill on October 7, 2018 at 3:24 am

The opening night as a cinema was Wednesday 5 September 1934. The feature was ‘The Private Life of Don Juan’ starring Douglas Fairbanks.

SethLewis
SethLewis on October 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Such a cool place…saw The Wilby Conspiracy here in 75 and I’m guessing something here earlier than that

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