Ruby Cinema

7 St John's Hill,
London, SW11 1TR

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Located in the south London district of Battersea, almost opposite Clapham Junction Railway Station. Built for piano manufacturers, Munt & Co., Munt’s Hall opened on 27th November 1890. It was designed by architect Henry Branch. There were two spaces, the lower hall where piano’s were manufactured and the upper hall where recitals and concerts were given. It became the Grand Hall of Varieties from 23rd October 1894. It was such a success, that the owners built the purpose-built Grand Theatre a few yards away in 1900. The Grand Hall then became used for special events and concerts.

In 1911, plans were proposed to convert it into a cinema. Designed by architect Ewan S. Barr, a balcony was added during the re-building. It opened as the Imperial Picture Theatre on 23rd February 1914 with "Moths". By 1951, it was known as the Imperial Cinema. In August 1961, an independent bingo club opened in the basement of the building. The Imperial Cinema closed on 4th February 1973 with "Innocent Bystanders" and "Crucible of Terror".

The operator of the bingo club, Fred Clark, took over the cinema and after renovations had been carried out it re-opened on 10th April 1973 with "The Best Pair of Legs in the Business". The cinema was re-named Ruby Cinema after his wife’s name. Reg Varney, who was one of the stars of the opening film, carried out the opening ceremony.

Barclay’s Bank acquired the freehold of the building with plans to redevelop the site. Sadly the worry of these proposals led to the premature death of Fred Clark. The Ruby Cinema closed on 22nd August 1981 with Harrison Ford in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". It was demolished in December 1982, and a branch of Barclay’s Bank now stands on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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