Phoenix Cinema

19-23 Oxford Street,
London, W1D 2DL

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Located at the Eastern end of Oxford Street, central London’s major shopping street. Pyke House Cinematograph Theatre was the fifth cinema in the chain of Cinematograph Theatre’s operated by exhibitor Montagu A. Pyke.

It opened on 17th February 1910. The building was elaborately decorated with carved marble figures over the entrance, and had four floors of offices above. Inside the lavishly appointed auditorium, seating for 500 was provided in stalls and circle levels.

Pyke’s circuit (Amalgamated Cinematograph Theatres Ltd.) went out of business in 1914 and the cinema was taken over by new operators who re-named it Phoenix Cinema. It was closed for 6-months in 1919 and underwent a renovation. Re-opening in January 1920, it was closed in around 1925.

In the early 1930’s it had been converted into a furniture store with the first floor of offices in use as an English language school. In later years, the auditorium had been gutted and was a Claude Gill bookshop, latterly a Waterstones bookshop which was closed in December 2008.

The building was compulsary purchased to be demolished, along with all other buildings in the block and around the corner on Charing Cross Road (including the Astoria Theatre), to construct a new Crossrail and tube(Underground) railway station. Demolition is set to begin in January 2009.

It said that when the Pyke House Cinematograph Theatre opened, the smell inside the cinema could often be offensive to the nose. This smell of walnut pickles came from the Crosse & Blackwell pickle factory which was directly behind the cinema. A few years later, this factory was converted into the Astoria Cinema.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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