Monseigneur News Theatre, Piccadilly, London.

Monseigneur News Theatre,

215 Piccadilly,

London, W1V 9DL


Owners:   Monseigneur News Theatre Ltd.

Architect:  Cecil Massey/ Leslie Norton.

Date Opened As A Cinema:  Thursday 1st November 1934.

Total Seat Capacity On 2 Levels:  284.

Taken Over By The Jacey Cinema Circuit: 1960.

Altered Into A Two Screen Venue:  1979.

Other Names Associated With This Cinema:  Jacey, Centa, Cinecenta 1 & 2, ABC Piccadilly.

Date Closed:  Sunday 8th July 2001.

Final Films Shown:  “Lagaan” and “When Love Comes”.

Building: Extant.



News theatres were an important way of seeing the news “in action”. Cinemas in general  were showing short newsreels of local and international visual reports, but news cinemas tended to concentrate on short programmes, mainly of newsreels, travelogues, cartoons, etc.,  targeting an audience who could enter and leave the continuous show at anytime.

A 1939 view of the Monseigneur News Theatre with the Commissionaire at the entrance.

Monseigneur News opened their first such cinema in London’s Piccadilly on Thursday 1st November 1934. The premises had previously been the Monseigneur Restaurant. The auditorium was constructed in the basement of the building working to the plans of architect Cecil Massey. A section of the original restaurant upper level formed the projection room while the remaining level was used as a café that overlooked the auditorium, enabling customers to view the screen and take refreshments at their tables. Much of the of the decorative features and fitting of the former restaurant were retained giving the auditorium a unique charm.   The total seating capacity accommodated 284 customers on two levels.

In-line with many other news theatres, it became necessary to show feature films together with  news programmes to remain viable.  The Jacey Cinema circuit acquired the business during 1960. changing the name to the Jacey Cinema. This company had a reputation of screening “adult” films.  They presented a sexploitation movie at this cinema  “London in the Raw” in July 1964.  As the programming changed. so did the type of audience. This situation was maintained even after the business again changed hands to the Cinecenta circuit in May of 1972.  This company decided to twin the auditorium, simply by building a dividing wall down the centre.

It re-opened up as a dual screen cinema in 1979. Screen 1 held 118 seats and Screen 2 seated a further 124 patrons. The Gala Opening enticed customers in with an assortment of questionable titles like “What the Swedish Butler Saw”(in 3D) and “Blue Fantasies”, “Zombie Flesh Eaters” and “The Tool Box Murders”

Eventually it was sold on to the Cannon Group who rebranded it as a Cannon cinema. It was later renamed MGM and then ABC. The film menu at this time was a mixture of  independent art house films usually those with a violent or sexual content.

The final Bollywood epic film shown at the Monseigneur

The final owners were Odeon when they took over ABC in 2001. Soon afterwards the new management decided that they did not want this cinema in their portfolio and it closed it on Sunday 8th July 2001. The final films shown on that day were “Lagaan” and “When Love Comes”.

The Pigalle Club.

The building was altered into a nightclub and operated as such for several years until closing.

The building is extant. white



For the first time a West End news theatre has been permanently equipped with a 16mm arc projector. It will be used for screening 16mm news items, special interior shorts and other types of 16mm film. The news theatre is the Monseigneur, Piccadilly, W1, and the projector installed is the Debrie machine. Similar installations are proposed in other West End and Scottish halls controlled by the Monseigneur circuit.

According to N. Feldman, general manager of British Newsreels, the circuit’s producing and distributing company, it will now be possible to present special 16mm news items, taken by their own cameramen and agents throughout the world, and in some cases twenty-four hours ahead of the normal 35mm newsreels. Such items will be presented as “specials” following the screening of the 35mm reels. The company is also going into the market for suitable 16mm films. If this market proves to be too restricted the company will produce its own 16mm films.

The 16mm projector will be used for the first public performance in this country of “Royal Canadian Visit” (40 mins, Kodachrome), which has its premiere at the Monseigneur, Piccadilly, on April 27.

British Newsreels is also making a 16mm film of the Coronation. It hopes to produce 2,000 feet to 3,000 feet Kodachrome film incorporating the Abbey ceremony and the “long” procession which follows.

The company is also taking a long-term view with regard to 3D films. It will be possible to adapt the Debrie equipment.

Few difficulties were encountered for the installation of the Debrie 16mm arc projector at the Monseigneur, Piccadilly. It is installed to the left of the two Ross GC 35mm projectors. It necessitated the cutting out of two extra ports into the wall of the projection box. Through these ports the 16mm films are screened at a throw of approximately eighty feet on to the screen in the auditorium. The 16mm picture image lines up satisfactorily with the 35mm picture size.

The 16mm projector is worked off the same power supply as that for the two 35mm projectors. It uses a normal 200 to 250 volts rectified to DC and is operated on the standard 35mm practice.

Sound output is fed through the Western Electric speaker channels. George Sweet, chief projectionist at the Monseigneur, and with over forty years experience in the trade, thinks that this installation is a grand idea. He says that his latest was easy to operate and, so far, they had achieved very good results with it.

FROM KINE WEEKLY April 23, 1953.