London, SW17 9NA
Date opened: Monday 7th September 1931.
Date Closed: 10th November 1973.
Architect: Cecil Masey F.R.I.B.A.
Interior design: Theodore Komisarjevsky.
First film shown: “Monte Carlo”.
Final film shown: “A Man Called Noon”.
The first General Manager: Noel Hobart.
Seating capacity: 3104.
Just over a year from the date that Sidney and Cecil Bernstein established the Granada Cinema chain in 1930 the magnificent Granada Theatre opened on Monday 7th September 1931. More than 3000 patrons packed into the elaborate auditorium to watch the first film shown- “Monte Carlo” which starred Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald. Many thousands of disappointed customers were turned away as the House Full signs were put on the entrance doors.
Costing an incredible £145,000 (£7 million calculated in today’s money!), the chosen architect was Cecil Masey. The the fantastic interiors were created by the famous Russian designer Theodore Komisarjevsky, with a series of painted murals taken from originals of Lucien Blanc and painted by Alex Johnson in to panels on the side walls of the circle. The collective talents of these three men helped to ensure that this theatre would be singled out to become the “flagship” of the Granada circuit and considered by many to be “the finest cinema in the UK”.
The entrance foyer featured grand marble staircases, Gothic windows and mirrors and chandeliers. On the first floor, guests entered the circle via the ‘Hall of Mirrors’, a long, wide corridor, full of arches and mirrors, that created a sense of splendor for patrons as they approached the auditorium. On the ground level there were more grand arches, deep ornate ceilings, doorways and balconies either side of the proscenium. Clark & Fenn (Joseph Bernard Clark and Harry Fenn) were responsible for the ornamental plaster-work. The Plenum chamber was capable of pumping 3,000,000 cubic feet of cooled or heated air into the theatre hourly. The impure air was then extracted via ducting from under the seats all over the auditorium.
It had a Wurlitzer theatre organ. Originally a 4 Manual/12 Ranks instrument which was opened by organist Alex Taylor.
A cafe/restaurant overlooked the main entrance, giving diners a first class view of the imposing entrance foyer.
A car park for 250 cars, and another service feature was a spacious pram park.
The fully equipped stage was impressive with a proscenium width of 58ft and 30ft deep, complete with a fly- tower. For four decades the stage provided live entertainment that saw many international artists appear there.
English Heritage upgraded the listing from Grade 2 to Grade 1 on 28th September 2000, the highest listing and the first Grade 1 awarded to a cinema building.