Acton History

Acton's Cinemas

Cinema History in Acton


The Granada On the Uxbridge Road was formerly called the Dominion, and was opened by Gracie Fields in 1938 in front of many fans. However as cinema going declined and it was sold only to re-open later as a bingo hall. Inside many of the 1930's architectural features remain. The seating in the circle is still in its original position, but in the stalls it has been removed to provide space for tables and chairs for bingo patrons. As was as often the case with cinemas of this era, a cafe was built on the first floor, beyond the large circular reception area.

The site of The Globe is where the Oaks Precinct now stands. From the opposite side of the road it is possible to notice architectural features showing where this popular cinema once stood. It was designed by P. G. Pratt and built by Ferris Bros. The opening ceremony on 1st April 1921 was performed by Lady de Freface- the former Vesta Tilley. An orchestra played there for silent films in what was said to be Britain's largest cinema. Charlie Chaplin was supposed to appear in person at the Globe that year, but he failed to materialise, much to the disappointment of the waiting crowds. The cinema was the venue for the reading of Acton Charter of Incorporation that same year. The Globe was sold to Messrs Richardson and Giffen in 1922. Four months later there w as a fire in the engine room- after which a meeting of creditors was held, and the company was wound up. Early in 1923 when the cinema was back in business, it showed films such as Oliver Twist starring Jackie Coogan. and there was also a special charity performance that year to raise money for victims of an appalling Japanese earthquake. In 1935 the Globe closed for modernisation, and was subsequently re-opened in July by the Mayor of Acton. Talent contests and stage turns were a common feature within programmes and the Crowning of the Queen of Song took place there.

Further on is the building that was once the Crown cinema in Mill Hill Place. When it was built in March 1911, new government regulations caused the original plans to be amended. Once opened, regular advertisements soon appeared for the programmes. By 1922 The Crown had engaged a nurse to look after babies thereby allowing mothers to attend afternoon film performances. At a meeting of the creditors in 1923 it was decided to sell the Crown. The following year it was purchased by M. R. Bulley M.D. of the Kinema. West Ealing and five months later after total refurbishment there was a grand re-opening. The cinema - known locally as the Flea-pit - continued to flourish- it was cheap and cheerful. and had double seats for courting couples in the back row! Considerably altered, this building was used as a snooker hall and store house. The premises were demolished in 2004, and are being replaced with a housing development.

In King Street it is not possible to see where the Odeon once stood It was opened by Hubert Duggan M.P. in 1937. The Cinema ended its days as a B&Q store before being demolished to make way for Safeways (now Morrisons).

 In Horn Lane where a cinema, first mentioned in 1910 - The Cinematograph Theatre showed a continuous programme, with tickets costing 3d. or 6d. Its programmes were advertised regularly in the local press. At various times it was known as the Kinema, Carlton or Rex. In 1933 it was modernised and redecorated. Piano accompaniment was provided for the films by Read' s Music Salon. Films were shown on Sundays as well as weekdays, and by 1937 the 3d.children's matinees were a regular feature at 9 o' clock on Saturday mornings. Children with lucky numbers stuck under their seats were awarded prizes. Serials were very popular, especially those featuring buck Rogers and Tom Mix. It was closed in 1938 for rebuilding, in the course of which a tunnel from Acton House under Horn Lane was found. The building, together with the adjacent shop fitters premises, has recently been replaced by a housing complex.

In 1933 a debate was held by the Women's Citizens Association to discuss the advantages of the cinema and a poll was taken concerning Sunday opening. The poll agreed to Sunday opening on application to the County Council.

Cinemas thrived after the second world war, but Acton no longer has any working cinema in its centre. Recently a new multi-screen cinema was opened in the Park Royal area- alongside the Western Avenue.

Information from SHEILA SERMON

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