THE GRANADA THEATRE CIRCUIT

Granada Bedford CollageThe 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

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PART TEN: STARTING ANOTHER CIRCUIT

THE GRANADA THEATRE KINGSTON

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Although The Granada Theatre Kingston was the last Theatre to open as a Granada, it was in fact a take over.    

The Hyams Brothers, Phil and Sid, & A. J. Gale had planned a State Cinema at Kingston, which was to form part of a group of State Cinemas to join those of Kilburn and Holloway.  The State Kilburn opened in 1937, as a Gaumont Super Cinema and was the largest purpose built cinema in Britain.  The cinema at Holloway with a seating capacity of over 3,000 opened in 1938 as the Gaumont.  Although George Coles was the Hyams Brothers’ architect, the Bernsteins decided to have the interior redesigned and charged Theodore Komisarjevsky with the task along with Cecil Audrey Massey as consulting architect.

The facade of the Theatre was of three tall round-headed windows with a small porthole window above each.  There was a canopy and a fin with the name Granada positioned longitudinally on it.  There were no steps up to the entrance doors.

Granada Kingston CollageThe Granada Theatre Kingston  
I have been unable to find a photograph of the theatre prior to its tripling in 1973
The photograph of the theatre after tripling was taken by dusashenka
Right: as the building was until recently, as the Oceana Nightclub 
This photograph was taken by Scottish Cinemas (Gary Painter & Gordon Barr)

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From what I can gather from photographs, the theatre was impressive.  The foyer was large and tall and well-lit from the three tall windows.  The walls were decorated with rounded mirrors.  Staircases on either side of the foyer led up to the circle, which had a long waiting area also decorated with mirrors.

Foyer after triplingThe foyer after tripling
Photographs taken by dusashenkaFoyer as OceanaThe foyer following the opening of Oceana
These photographs were taken by  Scottish Cinemas (Gary Painter & Gordon Barr)

The auditorium had seating for some 1,800, although the exact number is unclear.  This made it larger than the Standard auditorium set out at the Granada Maidstone.

There was frieze work at the Cornice above the three decorative grilles on either side of the stage and above the Proscenium Arch.  The circular decoration (i.e. Rondel) surrounding the main chandelier is set in a saucer dome in the style seen at the Phoenix Theatre.  The ceiling over the circle was coiffed in a decorative style.  A projection box was present at the back wall, which also was different to other Standard Theatres

Auditorium CollageTop: the auditorium showing grille work and central chandelier with saucer-like dome
These photographs taken by dusashenka and appear with permission
Bottom: the ceiling of the back stalls; this photograph was taken by  Scottish Cinemas (Gary Painter & Gordon Barr) and appear with permission

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The theatre opened in November 1939 with the screening of The Story of Alexandra Bell (The Modern Miracle) with Don Ameche and Home from Home with Sandy Powell, but without any special opening ceremony.  The fact that Britain had been at war since September may have been the cause of this.

Films CollageLeft: Don Ameche; Middle: Film Poster; Right: Sandy Powell

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The Theatre had full stage facilities and was used often in the 1960s for Rock ‘n’ Roll Stage Shows. 

Posters and Tickets Kingston Collage

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The Wurlitzer Organ from the Picture House, Edinburgh was installed at the Theatre and is said to have been played on the opening night by Reginald Dixon, but Allen Eyles does not mention this fact in his book.  The Wurlitzer Organ is currently installed in a private home in Penzance, Cornwall.  It is of interest to note that this organ was the final installation in the U.K. made by The Wurlitzer Organ Comapny.

Reginald Dixon at the GranadasI have been unable to find any recording of Reginald Dixon at the Granada Kingston Wurlitzer Organ.

Here is a recording made during the Second World War where he is heard playing the Granada Slough Wurlitzer Organ.

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In December 2014, I was fortunate enough to be shown around the erstwhile Granada Theatre Kingston, now the Pzymn Nightclub, by a member of staff.  I would like to thank the staff member who showed me the building for his kindness.  The photographs that I took during this visit may be seen by

CLICKING HERE

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CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO

PART 10: STARTING A CIRCUIT

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