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 CONTINUED

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TURNING EMPIRES & OTHER KINEMAS INTO

GRA-NAH-DAHS

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Following the opening of the Granada Theatre Tooting in 1931, the Bernsteins took over a number of cinemas and had either George Coles or Cecil Massey together with Theodore Komisarjevsky turn them into Granadas – pronounced … GRA-NAH-DAH, as it was advertised.

Although involved in the planning of the Circuit, the Bernsteins were also planning changes to a number of theatres  they already owned.

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THE EMPIRE-GRANADA THEATRE EDMONTON

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At this time, they undertook the rebuilding the Empire Edmonton, which is where Marie Lloyd gave her final performance in 1922.  In 1933, it was closed and rebuilt under the direction of Cecil Massey and Theodore Komisarjevsky and reopened as a cinema.  Mr. Komisarjevsky decorated the auditorium and foyer in a totally different decorative manner in a modern and futuristic style known as De Stijl.  The original Christie Organ was replaced by a Wurlitzer Organ at the time of rebuilding and was the first Wurlitzer Organ to be assembled in Britain.

Empire Edmonton CollageThe Empire-Granada Theatre Edmonton
Left: exterior view; Right: the auditorium

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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THE GAUMONT MANCHESTER

A TALE OF BUILDING & QUICKLY SELLING

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In 1935, the Bernsteins together with Theodore Komisarjevsky and the architects William T. Benslyn and James Morrison built a super cinema in Manchester on the site of Sir Oswald Stoll’s Hippodrome, which the Bernsteins had bought and then demolished.  Although the interior resembled the standard Granadas, it was reputedly decorated in a far more lavish style.

Hippodrome-Gaumont Manchester CollageThe Hippodrome (Top Left) & The Gaumont Manchester (Top Right)
The Auditorium (Bottom Left & Middle) & The Theatre Organ (Bottom Right)

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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THE PLAZA/GRANADA THEATRE SUTTON

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granada-cinema-suttonThe Plaza/Granada Theatre Sutton

The Plaza Sutton was called The Wonder Theatre of Surrey and was built for the promoter Lou Morris and was sold to the Bernsteins before it opened in 1934, but it was not until 1942 that the Theatre’s name was changed to Granada.

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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THE GRANADA THEATRE WILLESDEN

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BeforeThe Granada Theatre Willesden 

The Empire Kinema Willesden was another Theatre operated from pre-Circuit days.  The Kinema had been built for Alexander Bernstein with Cecil Audrey Massey as the architect and had 1,450 seats on one level and had opened in December 1920.  In 1936 the Kinema was renamed the Granada Theatre.

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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THE GRANADA THEATRE EAST HAM

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Granada East Ham as a cinema with borderThe Granada Theatre East Ham

I was sorry to learn that a proposed Granada Theatre for the East End of London, either in Bow or Mile End, was dropped from the plan in 1938 – a sad loss for the East End. Despite this loss, a Granada Theatre did open in East London, at East Ham in November 1936.

This establishment was not part of the original group of Theatres planned by The Granada Theatre Circuit , but was one to be built for the Denman (London) Circuit.   It was not until 1965 that Granada took full ownership of the Theatre.

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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THE GRANADA THEATRE RUGBY

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In 1933, Bernstein Theatres acquired a share in the Plaza Theatre and the smaller Regal Cinema in Rugby.   The Plaza Theatre was taken over fully in 1944 and was renamed, Granada in 1946.

rugby-granada-cinemaThe erstwhile Granada Theatre Rugby
This photograph appears with permission of Paul Bland

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The Theatre is discussed in the section found by:

CLICKING HERE

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In 1937 various announcements were made regarding the building of new GRANADAS, which were later shelved or dropped entirely.  It was in this year that a GRANADA at Slough was first mentioned and it was also in this year that the GRANADA THEATRE, advertised as THE MOST ROMANTIC CINEMA EVER BUILT, opened at Woolwich.

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CLICK HERE
to read about

WAR TIME, THE END OF THE PURPOSE BUILT THEATRES, 

BUT CONTINUING TO ADD TO THE CIRCUIT THROUGH TAKE-OVERS

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Some of the history of the theatres appearing here came from The Granada Theatres by Allen Eyles.  I am grateful to Mr. Eyles for this great book.

I would like to thank Simon Gledhill for his help by answering the many questions asked.

I would like to thank The Organ Society of Australia (Queensland) for their help and to Mr. Ian McIver.

I would like to thank Andrew Gilbert for providing information on the Plaza-Granada Sutton.

I would like to thank Len Rawle, dusashenka, Peter Towell, Gary Painter & Gordon Barr of Scottish Cinemas, David Cresswell, Kevin Lane, Graham Atkinson, Andrew Woodyatt and Joshua Abbott for allowing their photographs to be reproduced here.

I would also like to thank Mr. Adeel Anwar, Club Manager of Gold’s Gym, Harrow for his kindness in showing me around the former Granada Theatre Harrow.

I would like to thank Clive Polden of the Cinema Treasures Association for allowing their photographs to appear here.

I would very much like to thank Robert Plummer for allowing his photographs to be reproduced here.

I am extremely grateful to the following who were kind enough to show me around former Granada Theatres: Mark Featherstone  (Granada Theatre Clapham Junction),  the Minister of the Destiny Christian Centre, Acton (Granada Theatre Acton), the owner of the former Granada Theatre East Ham (which is soon to reopen as a Function Centre) and to the owner of the South Bank Fitness Centre (Granada Theatre Wandsworth).  

Special thanks are given to the Assistant Manager of the Tesco Supermarket Greenford for help and consideration.

I am especially grateful to Paul Bland for sending some copies of photographs that appear here and for offering helpful comments and very useful facts.

Finally, I would like to thank Kenneth J. Clemetson for contacting the Collège Claparède in Geneva and finding out that the Wurlitzer Organ of the Granada Theatre Clapham Junction is still in playing order.

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CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO

PART 10: STARTING A CIRCUIT

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