Rialto Cinema

146 St. James's Road,
London, SE1 5BW

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Rialto Cinema

Located in the southeast London inner city district of Bermondsey, on St. James’s Road, off Southwark Park Road. It was possibly named after the Colleen public house, which stood almost opposite.

The Colleen Cinema opened on 4th September 1926 with Matheson Lang in "Secret Kingdom" and Isobel Elsom in “Last Witness”. The opening ceremony was carried out by Ivor Novello, who appeared in person, and was mobbed by the awaiting crowds. Inside the auditorium, the proscenium was 30 feet wide and as well as screening films, variety acts appeared on the small stage. Within a few months of opening it had been taken over by the D. Abrahams group of cinemas.

It was renamed Rialto Cinema in 1929, and it was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) from October 1930. They did not operate it for long, as in 1931 it was taken over by Eric Rhodes, becoming the first cinema to be operated by the founder of what was to later become Classic Cinemas. A new modern facade was added in around 1933. By 1935, new owners had taken over.

The Rialto Cinema was closed in 1940, due to German bomb damage. Repairs were carried out and the Rialto Cinema re-opened by 1944. CinemaScope was fitted in the mid-1950’s and the Rialto Cinema closed on 11th February 1961 with Peter Finch in "The Trials of Oscar Wilde" and Bob Hope in "My Favorite Spy".

The building was converted into an independent bingo club, and remained in this use until around May 2001. The building was demolished in 2003 and a block of flats has been built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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