EMD Cinema

186 Hoe Street,
London, E17 4QS

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EMD Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the northeast London district of Walthamstow. Originally on this site had stood the Victoria Picture Theatre, which was purchased by Sydney Bernstein in 1928. The Granada Theatre was the second Granada Theatre to be opened in the expanding Granada Theatres chain, and opened on 15th September 1930 with Sydney Howard in “Splinters”. Designed by Cecil Masey in a Spanish Moorish style, the cinema had a restaurant, located to the left of the entrance over shop units. The interior design was by Russian set designer Theodore Komisarjevsky, who went on the design the interiors of many more Granada cinemas. The large main foyer is in a Spanish Baroque style with huge mirrors on the walls, and furniture designed especially for the theatre by Komisarjevsky.

In the auditorium seating was provided for 2,697 in stalls and circle levels. There is a large fully equipped stage, but no fly tower. The Granada Theatre was equipped with a 12Ranks Christie organ, which had two 3Manual consoles, one in the orchestra pit and another on the stage level which was opened by ‘Mr. & Miss Smith’, aka organists Charles Willis and Josie Bradley. The stage was put to use many times in the 1950’s and 1960’s with Pantomime’s at Christmas, and one night pop show staring the likes of The Beatles etc. It was while setting up for a concert by the Duke Ellington Band, that the orchestra pit was filled-in with concrete, which encased the orchestra pit console of the Christie organ, leaving only the on-stage console playable.

In October 1973, the Granada Theatre was tripled, with 944 seats in the former balcony, using the original projection box and proscenium. The two min-cinemas in the rear stalls under the circle each seated 182 and had a new projection box installed. The front stalls area became unused, with seating removed. The Granada Theatre was given a Grade II Listing by English Heritage on 24th February 1987.

In January 1989, it was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon. By July 1995, the Virgin Group had taken over and it was re-branded again. ABC took over from 3rd May 1996, and it was re-named ABC. In around 2000, the ABC chain was taken over by Odeon Theatres Ltd, and although it retained the ABC name, it was soon closed by Odeon. They put a stipulation on any sale of the building, that it could never screen English language films again.

The cinema was purchased by an independent operator, and it was re-named EMD Cinema, screening East Indian (Bollywood) films. After a court battle, he gained permission to screen regular films again, and the EMD was once again a popular cinema in Walthamstow. It closed as the EMD Cinema in January 2003 with the film “The Smallest Show On Earth” starring Peter Sellers, plus a final concert on the stage console of the Christie organ, and a live variety show.

It had been sold (at a price that was too good to refuse) to a dubious quasi-religious organisation the United Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) who are based in Brazil. They planned to convert the building into church use and a ‘help centre’. This use was refused by the local council and their decision was backed up by a Public Inquiry that stated the building must be retained in cinema use for the local community. The ‘church’ appealed again and were refused a second time. Several cinema chains have been interested in re-opening the building, but the ‘church’ hiked the asking price, and they were deterred. UCKG were then set a date in November 2011, to decide what to do with the building, and after the deadline had passed, they decided to apply again and take the case to a second Public Inquiry, which was due to take place in summer of 2012. This was cancelled when UCKG applied for use as a ‘community centre’. Again, this use was refused and by autumn 2012, UCKG appealed the refusal. The second Public Inquiry went ahead, and again UCKG were refused permission to use the building. In June 2013, UCKG decided not to appeal the second Public Inquiry. A decision on future use for the building now rests with Waltham Forrest council and a deal being struck with UCKG!

The former restaurant is still open, but is now a pub. In the meantime, the cinema building has been boarded up, but initially was not secured enough, and within weeks of closing there was an illegal ‘rave’ held inside, then squatters took over. In the extremely bitter-cold winter of early-2011, water pipes burst, flooding the front stalls area.

The former Granada Theatre is now a Grade II* Listed building.

Contributed by phil clark, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

LondonBessie
LondonBessie on June 10, 2009 at 5:25 am

There’s a Facebook group for those trying to get the cinema reopened. A high profile campaign supporting this has attracted support from Sir Mick Jagger, Meera Syal, Tony Robinson and Tony Benn… the Facebook group can be found here: View link

RichieA70
RichieA70 on August 22, 2009 at 6:06 am

UCKG – the church who have owned the cinema since 2003 (and kept it closed since then) have just submitted a new planning application to convert it into a church.

If Waltham Forest Council approve the plans, the borough loses it’s last and greatest ever cinema. Cinema operators including City Screen/Picturehouse want to buy and restore the building (which happens to be on a site used for entertainment since the 1870’s).

Please visit www.mcguffin.info and ‘Save Walthamstow Cinema’ on Facebook to find out what’s happening and how to object to the plans so we can get this beautiful building returned to the nation as a cinema in Hitchcock’s birthplace.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on May 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

An article from 30 March 2010: View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm

A set of vintage photographs of the Granada Theatre:
View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm

This 2009 article from the BBC has an undated interior picture within it (scroll down): View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on March 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

According to this blog item, the theater has suffered significant deterioration and damage caused by some squatters that temporarily occupied the theater and from neglect on the part of the church that owns the property. The blog has links to some videos about the theater that include some historical photos as well as one of the flooded main auditorium:
View link

RichieA70
RichieA70 on May 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

The cinema’s owners UCKG had their 2nd application to convert the building into a church (with some community access) REJECTED unanimously by Waltham Forest Council on 18 May 2011. The church plans to appeal, as they did for their original application in 2003.

Meanwhile a charitable building preservation trust called Waltham Forest Cinema Trust' has been established to buy and restore the building as a full time cinema and live events venue.

See www.walthamforestcinematrust.org
www.savewalthamstowcinema.org
www.mcguffin/info
Facebook ‘save our cinema'
Twitter 'save our cinema’

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

This photo of the auditorium of the Granada Theatre was published in the November 1, 1930, issue of the American trade journal Motion Picture News. It was one of several photos illustrating an article on Spanish and Moorish architecture that begins on this page of the magazine, which features another, smaller, photo of the theater.

RichieA70
RichieA70 on January 8, 2014 at 7:26 am

Excellent, thanks Joe.

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