London, W5 5AA
Date opened: Monday 29th July 1912
Date Closed: Saturday 28th October 1972
Architect: John Stanley Coombe Beard FRIBA (17 July 1890 – 1970)
First General Manager: Edgar Sinclair
Seating Capacity: 1600
The Walpole cinema Bond Street Ealing was a conversion of a skating rink known as the Walpole Hall Roller Skating Rink, designed by Alfred Burr. The directors were a Mr Thomas Bernard Percy and his brother WH Percy. They formed Walpole Hall Ltd in 1908. It’s conversion to a cinema was undertaken by architect J Stanley Beard. It opened its doors on the 29th July 1912. It was opened by the mayor of Ealing at three o’clock. The Bioscope said a very large and fashionable audience was present. There were several prominent people associated with Ealing present. It was said that it was the largest picture theatre in Middlesex with seating for 1600.It was reported that in the interval refreshments were provided on a very lavish scale.
The projection room was equipped with Ernemann projectors. Later BTH SUPA machines were installed. Finally, Kalee machines projected the images. The first manager was a Mr Edgar Sinclair. At the time of opening the proprietors are listed as United Kingdom Picture Theatres Ltd. It seems, but not very clear, that they leased the theatre from Walpole Hall until 1925 and then it was taken back by Walpole Hall Ltd. If anyone can elaborate on this, I would be pleased to hear from you.
The entrance vestibule of the Walpole had a semi circular dome, studded with many bulbs. The walls were treated in vitreous mosaic, with the dominant colour blue. Entrance was through swing doors to the vestibule lounge. From the lounge the patron passed into a small square corridor and from there into the theatre.
At the time of opening the screen was made of plaster. The ceiling was treated in chocolate brown to reflect a minimum amount of light rays. It is stated that the operator’s box projects into the theatre in the form of an oriol bay. The managers office was at the rear of the auditorium. The press reported that the United Kingdom Picture Theatres Ltd were fined at Brentford magistrates five pounds in February 1916 for permitting gangways to be obstructed by people standing at the Walpole. In 1925 the Walpole was renovated. There was an orchestra called The Walpole Orchestra. The first film at the re- opening, which took place on Monday November 16th 1925 Was ‘Ypres’. It was reported that Mr H Usher, the manager invited children attending the Ealing elementary schools a free performance of the film on Saturday November the 21st. The press said that the utmost pains have been taken to ensure a musical treat for patrons of the Walpole. In 1931 Walpole Hall Ltd offered shares to the staff. They said they all greatly appreciated the kindness of the managing director, suggested as a motto for the staff “Preserve while Percy’s here.”
The Bioscope dated June 24th 1931 says: Walpole Hall Ltd, proprietors of the Walpole Cinema Ealing, are to erect a super cinema at Northfields Avenue, Northfields, Ealing. Plans are to be prepared by Cecil Masey, FRIBA and the cinema will have a seating capacity of about 1700. It is anticipated that a start will be made within a month or so. On the 5th September 1932 the company opened the Avenue cinema on Northfields Avenue Ealing, which became known as Spanish City. Odeon theatres took the Walpole and the Avenue on a long lease, Thomas Percy and his brother then ceased to have more than a freeholder’s interest in them. This took place on 18th February 1936. Rank closed the Walpole cinema on the 28th October 1972 with a double bill ‘If’ and ‘Goodbye Columbus’. The building was converted into a carpet store and later a rehearsal room for rock groups. In May 1981 the demolition hammer knocked down this once popular hall. An office block was built called Walpole House, used by Thames Valley University. The frontage of the cinema remains against the side wall of a building, just off Mattock Lane. A reminder of Ealing’s early cinema days.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk