London, W5 4UB
AKA–Odeon / Coronet
Date opened: Monday 5th September 1932.
Date Closed: Thursday 17th January 1985.
Architect: Cecil Aubrey Masey. FRIBA (28 December 1880 – 7 April 1960).
Seating Capacity: 1538.
Walpole Hall Ltd, owners of the Walpole Cinema, Bond Street Ealing, London W5, opened a new cinema called The Avenue on Northfields Avenue, Ealing on 5th September 1932, with an audience of 1500. Building work had commenced around July 1931. The opening attraction was ‘The Honorable Mr Wong’ and the second feature was ‘Lord Babs’. In its second week ‘Rookery Nook’ was shown for three days, followed on the Thursday with ‘The Wet Parade’. On the stage for a week were a musical act called The Golden Quartette. The cinema was constructed opposite Northfields Piccadilly line station and was opened by the mayor HJ Stowell. He had the novel experience while occupying a balcony seat of listening to his own speech. He had appeared in front of the camera in advance of the opening day giving his speech. In advertising The Avenue would state In Association with Walpole Ealing, and the Walpole would say In Association with The Avenue.
Often the Walpole and The Avenue would screen the same film. One example is the Eddie Cantor film The Kid From Spain, screened at both in October 1933. It was also shown a short distance away in East Acton at the Savoy. The building was designed In the Spanish style by Cecil Masey. There was a large car park at the rear. The theatre was equipped with Holophane lighting and a Compton organ, which was played on the opening night by Bertram Orsman. It was advertised as Avenue Wonder Organ. On the stage were Michel and Arnova acrobatic dancers. On the opening evening there was a party of twenty four from the Brentford Football Club attending the cinema. The players saw a film of themselves. The film also included the manager Mr HC Curtis and the trainer Bob Kane. There was Dinkie the dog barking a message of good luck. Mr H Usher, a director of Walpole Hall Ltd, and manager of the Walpole Cinema, said The Avenue represented British capital, British material, and British labour.
Up in the projection room the sound system was Western Electric and the chief operator was a Mr Clement Levingston. Later, Kalee 21 and Cinemeccanica Victoria 5 equipment would be employed. The paybox was on the right hand side as you entered the cinema. A report in the West Middlesex Gazette dated October 8 1932 said: More Northfields people than ever before are becoming regular cinema patrons since the opening of The Avenue. The pictures, the organ and the variety turns combine to make a most enjoyable programme, and people who have said, “I don’t care very much for cinemas, they are usually so stuffy,” find The Avenue comfortable and the theatre well warmed and ventilated.
The cinema housed a cafe, which was eventually closed. In 1972 the organ was removed. Apparently it had received some flood damage in 1970. From the 18th February 1936 The Avenue and the Walpole came under Odeon control. For a short while it was still advertised as The Avenue but stating It as an Associate Odeon Theatre. The Walpole name was never changed but it was still listed as an Associate Odeon Theatre. After Odeon it became the Coronet cinema run by Panton Films from the 15th November 1981,closing on the 17th January 1985 with ‘The Terminator’. Chris, the last chief operator went on to work at the Odeon Richmond.
A trust named the Ealing Cinema Trust tried to have films reinstated, but this didn’t happen. It became a night spot called the Top Hat, opening in May 1988 and closing in 1994. After its night club days it went on to become a Pentecostal church. The CTA visited on 14th October 2000 and organised a film show there. The building is listed grade 2. Like other towns and cities Ealing has lost a number of cinemas, including the Forum, lastly Empire, the Walpole, the Lido, later an ABC, the Grand Hanwell and the Palladium, Ealing Broadway, where WH Smith stands.
Grade II* Listed building since 1974.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk