TOUR | Behind the Scenes: The Granada Theatre
event Wednesday, 8 August 2018
access_time 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
location_on Gala Bingo Club, 50 Mitcham Road, SW17 9NA
Easily the most spectacular cinema in Britain and certainly one of London’s hidden treasures. Sometimes described as ‘The Cathedral of the Movies’, the exterior does not prepare you for the incredible gothic-style interior of the theatre. Prepare to be astounded when you enter!
The Granada Theatre, Tooting opened in 1931 for Sydney Bernstein’s Granada Theatres. It was his third theatre and became the flagship of the circuit. The architect, Cecil Masey designed a Moderne Italianate-styled towering entrance with four tall pillars topped by Corinthian capitals. The entire interior decoration of the theatre was designed in a gothic style by famed Russian stage set designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. As well as films, many stars from America and the UK played concerts at the Granada. In the early 1960s famous pop stars appeared here. With falling audiences, in 1971 Granada wanted to demolish the theatre to build an office block but the Council served a local preservation notice. This led in June 1972 to a Grade II* statutory listing. The theatre closed suddenly as a cinema in November 1973 and remained unused until it reopened as a Granada Bingo Club in 1976.
Taken over in 1991 by Gala Bingo it remains in operation today. In September 2000 the listed status of the Granada Theatre was upgraded to Grade I. This is the highest listing that any building in the UK can receive and puts it on the same level as the Tower of London. It is the only 1930s cinema building to be given this status. The tour is led by Nigel Pitt, a member of the Cinema Theatre Association with an interest in 1930s cinema architecture. Nigel has conducted tours of the Gala, Tooting for London Open House for many years. Photo © Elain Harwood