THE GRANADA THEATRE CIRCUIT
The Granada Theatre Bedford during the days of the Second World War
Top Right: Both American and British Servicemen are seen walking past the theatre, and if you look carefully, a Granada Sergeant is on duty and standing at the entrance.
Bottom Right: poster from a 1960s Stage Show
PART TEN: STARTING ANOTHER CIRCUIT
THE GRANADA THEATRE GREENFORD
The Granada Theatre Greenford was built on the site of a Roman Catholic church. It is said that there was a ghost, named Charlie, that was seen occasionally backstage*. Cecil Audrey Massey was a consultant to the architects Charles Dixon and Henry Braddock during its building. The interior was once again the work of Theodore Komisarjevsky, who was apparently ill in Switzerland during the later part of the construction and communicated his directions through his doctor.
The interior of the Granada Theatre Greenford followed closely the template introduced at the Granada Theatre Maidstone. However there were some differences, which included the addition of fastoons above the side wall grilles of the auditorium. Although frescos were placed at the cornice level of the side walls, none appeared above the Proscenium Arch. Instead, the area was decorated with pierced grille work. Although the Cecil Audrey Massey was involved in the design of the theatre, the balcony rows were not in an undulating form.
The Granada Theatre Greenford opened in November 1937 by Gracie Fields and was advertised as The Wonder Theatre of 1938. The number of seats in the theatre is questionable, but seems to be in the area of 2,000.
The theatre closed as a cinema in 1966 and I can find no evidence that it was ever twinned or tripled or converted into a Granada Social Club. The building was purchased by Tesco PLC and converted into a supermarket. There is talk that the company wishes to demolish the building and replace it with a larger store.
The Granada Theatre Greenford
Top Left: a group of kids wait in line to see King Creole in 1958, Elvis’ fourth film;
I remember doing the same at the Granada Theatre Slough!
Top Right: the auditorium showing the Wurlitzer Organ and the side grille work with the fastoons and the Cornice above;
Bottom Left: design for the theatre’s conversion into a Tesco Supermarket;
Bottom Right: as a Tesco Metro.
This photograph is reproduced with the permission of the photographer, Joshua Abbott
Click here to hear the Organ being played
When the Granada Theatre Greenford was sold, the Wurlitzer Organ was purchased by an Organ enthusiast who installed it in a building in the grounds of his home in Sutton Nottinghamshire. It was later sold to another Organ enthusiast who installed it, together with the Wurlitzer Organ from the Granada Theatre Mansfield, at the Scarborough Fair Collection at the Flowers of May Holiday Park at Lebberston Cliff, near Scarborough.
In November 2014, I visited the erstwhile Granada Theatre Greenford, which is still a Tesco Supermarket, in an attempt to find anything left of the former cinema. The supermarket was a typical Tesco with nothing apparently left of the building’s former usage.
I asked one of the employees if there were any remnants of the cinema anywhere in the building. The woman, who was the assistant manager, told me that upstairs, in the storage area, the ceiling of the former Theatre auditorium could still be seen. I asked if I could see it for myself. She said that only the manager could give permission for non-employees to go up to the upper floor, and since he was not at the store that day, I would not be able to ask him. I realised that I was not going to be able to change her mind and, in addition, I did not want to get her into trouble, so I had to think of some other way of seeing the ceiling.
As I couldn’t go up to the upper floors, I had to enlist the aid of someone who could! And who better than to ask the assistant manager to come to my aid! I asked her if she would be willing to take my camera and take some photographs for me. At first she was reticent, but with a little coaxing and lots of smiles, she agreed.
The assistant manager took the camera and quickly disappeared into the lift and soon was winging her way to the upper floor. While I waited for her return, I spent the time walking around the store, but keeping my eye on the lift doors. After what seemed an age, the lift doors opened and she came out into the store. As she returned the camera to me, she said that she hoped that her photographs were O.K. I said that whatever she had taken I was sure that it would be fine. At that, I thanked her very much for her help and kindness and, as I turned and walked towards the exit, she returned to her work.
I am grateful to the assistant manager for her kindness in taking these photographs for me. And I think that they turned out just fine!
* REGARDING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THAT WAS PRESENT ON THE SITE BEFORE THE THEATRE WAS BUILT & THE GHOST, CHARLIE:
I have learned from the Ealing Local History Centre that the church in question was probably the temporary church of Our Lady of the Visitation, listed a year after a Catholic parish was first registered in Greenford in 1928. A permanent site for the church was acquired in 1937. The Pallotine Fathers ministered here and the temporary church was located on Greenford Road from 1934-1936. The Granada Theatre was built on this site and opened in 1937.
There appears to be no official information available regarding the presence of Charlie!
I would like to thank Dr. Oates, Archivist at the Ealing Local History Centre for providing this information who states that most of this information came from Frances Hounsell’s Greenford, Northolt and Perivale Past (1999).