275 Pentonville Road,
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Located in the north London inner-city district of King’s Cross close to the mainline King’s Cross Railway Station. An imposing and partially blind facade conceals a rather more prosaic brick box of an auditorium with an asbestos roof.
Built to the design of architect H. Courtenay Constantine and opened on 26th April 1920 as the King’s Cross Cinema. It was closed on 8th May 1949, to repair damage done by German bombs during World War II. Extensively altered in 1949 to the plans of T. P. Bennett and Son, it was re-opened as the Gaumont on 17th March 1952. Re-named Odeon 25th November 1962, the Rank Organisation closed the Odeon on 22nd August 1980 with “Airport”.
It was taken over by an independent operator and re-named King’s Cross Cinema, which closed on 29th March 1975 with “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and “A Fistful of Dollars”. The building was converted into a Primatarium, diplaying live apes, but this venture was not successful. The stalls were converted to a snooker hall.
In 1980, the operators of the Scala Cinema Club had been ejected from their home on the site of the old Scala Theatre on Charlotte Street, and the former circle was reopened in July 1981 as the 350-seat Scala Cinema. The opening film was the Classic 1933 version of “King Kong”, and the Scala Cinema quickly became a successful ‘art-house’ repertory venue. Especially popular were its all night screenings on the weekends.
Sadly, the Scala Cinema was closed in 1993, after the operating company had gone into receivership, caused by court costs in a battle with director Stanley Kubick. It all happened after they had screened “A Clockwork Orange” illegally, as Kubrick had withdrawn screening rights in the UK, due to bad publicity over gang behavour on its initial 1971 release.
The building is now in use as the Scala nightclub, with concerts and live performances. A church uses the former stage area, and the snooker club still occupies the former stalls area.
Overshadowed for many years by the King’s Cross regeneration scheme, the future of this building is still uncertain, although the 2008 regeneration of St. Pancras Station as an International Eurostar destination and the restoration of King’s Cross Railway Station in 2013 has brought more respectable life into this once seedy area of the city.
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