Why It Matters: A Cinema For Kentish Town


Of all the entertainment venues in Kentish Town, no cinema, the stuff that dreams are made of? So you’ve got …



Forum ABC, 1934-1970

Of all the entertainment venues in Kentish Town, no cinema, the stuff that dreams are made of? So you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do you want one?’ Well, do you? I say if you build it, they will come. For more evidence, see Chicken Shop.

Kentish Town residents should be able to enjoy an equal entertainment status long available in adjacent areas, as the Kentishtowner review of the London Film Festival aptly demonstrated earlier this month.

Palace Cinema, 1913-1959

From the eight cinemas that shone their silver screens in our patch, the Gem Picture Hall (Malden Road), which opened in April 1910, is thought to be the first. It was followed in no particular order by the Coronation Gardens (Prince of Wales Road), The Lismore (Lismore Road), Kentish Town Cinema (Gaisford Street) and Forum ABC (Highgate Road) that can be seen in the main pic.

The Electric Alhambra, The Palace and Venus were all once located along Kentish Town Road.

Venus, 1970-1975 (taken 1970 poor quality, only one known)

The last cinema in the area, the Venus – seating 185 and opened in 1970 – may be considered an oddity, as it was situated on the ground floor of the church hall at the rear of St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church (on the corner of Kentish Town Road / Rochester Road).

Nonetheless it was fully air conditioned with a licensed bar, but had closed by 1975 and the area hasn’t seen a public screen since.

My particular memories as a young movie-goer remain of the Court Picture House – a citadel of dreams, the eternal provider of magical dust that soothed, healed, inspired and made our lives brighter.

It mattered not that burning Sahara sands were often at odds with the prevailing foggy night, or the snowy Alaska contradicted the sultry summer evening weather beyond its walls.

Court, 1910-1958 (poster date: September 1937)

On reflection, the interior and 460 capacity seating were abysmal and justifiably deserving of the Palme d’Or for ‘grimiest cinema’. That was all a facet of cinema going back then, but we tend to air-brush many of these details from our minds. In truth, for adults and youngsters alike, we came out as stars.

The enticing smile of nostalgia entraps us all in gold-plated memories of days passed, but is also a powerful antidote to the blues and none more so than when recalling visits to the cinema.

It is for this reason above all others that the residents of Kentish Town must have a cinema in the area. The petition starts here: sign below. Let’s see what we can do.

Words: Des Whyman.
Des Whyman is author of Shoulder Of Mutton Field (Published by Nottingham University Press 2012)

This is box title
Sources:
With grateful thanks to Mark Aston.
The Cinemas of Camden, by Mark Aston. Pub, 1997, London Borough of Camden.
Camden Local Studies & Archives Centre, Holborn Library, 32-38 Theobalds Rd

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  • MrsP

    Would LOVE a cinema! We are big fans of the Belsize Everyman – right balance of independent and mainstream films..be nice if we no longer had to schlep up the hill!.. Wish I had the money to set it up….

    • Adam Phillips

      MrsP, seconded. Went to Belsize everyman for the first time last night and was amazed that a cinema experience could be like that. I would to have such a place on our doorstep in KT.

  • Nick

    Fully in agreement. Having previously lived in Mile End, I’d love to see a cinema similar to the Genesis set up around here, or even something like the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green/Shoreditch
    http://www.genesiscinema.co.uk/

  • IheartNW5

    Let’s do it! When our Woolies went, I was hoping we’d get a picture house in its place, but sadly we got another bleeding Sainsbsury’s! But yes let’s find a space and get one sorted for NW5

  • leslieworks

    The return of a cinema in KT would be fabulous. A great addition to a great area. Having had one previously on my road, Gaisford St, and in living memory of a few neighbour friends, it would be lovely to reenact this most social and cultural of experiences in my own neighbourhood.

  • pascal

    It would be great to see a cinema in KT. The 2 Odeons north and south are fairly soulless places. How aobut that commerical property on the corner of fortess and highgate road that has been unused for 2 years+…

  • High_Street_Ken

    Oh my, yes please…fan of curzon in soho, an actor, the child of a movie buff and therefore an avid cinema goer since year dot. Magical movies in Kentish Town???!!!! Yes please!

  • the beat experience

    Yes we want a cinema!!! We need a cinema!!! We would love a cinema in Kentish Town which otherwise is an amazing place to live. My husband & I have talked about the lack of a cinema in NW5 so many times. Makes no sense at all that there’s one in Belsize Patk if there isn’t one here! And we’re not even asking for 8 cinemas, just one good one will be fine. Someone could do something amazing with films over here. Run a festival, independent stuff & mainstream, talks, etc and YET there are SO many music venues compared in NW5.

  • PrinceofWalesDaniel

    It’s a lovely idea and the Belsize Everyman is a great template. Probably worth pointing out that the Hawley Wharf redevelopment plans just north of the canal, about which Camden decides next month, include an arthouse cinema. But the whole thing would only be complete in 2017 even if given the go-ahead.

  • Jon Simmons

    An NW5 Everyman would be superb and very popular you would imagine.

  • Hayley

    A picture house in KT would be great! It could showcase Contemporary, Independent, British and World Cinema too….

  • Astrid

    Oh yes please! A local cinema would be such a great boost to Kentish Town and would be turning back the clock in a good way. And let’s not forget that we also lost a cinema in Camden High St.

  • Kate Woodroffe

    Yes please!! Something like the tricycle in kilburn or the phoenix in east finchley. Everyman’s nice but a bit pricey for an every week jaunt. And a bit Hampstead/Belsize Park ish too. KT needs something cooler and groovier and more down to earth

  • mark martines

    A cinema in KT would be a welcome addition to the current surge of new restaurants, pubs and breweries! I am sure it would be very popular especially if it was more affordable than the Everyman and more interesting than an Odeon…

  • MrsN

    Where was Coronation Gardens? Was that the building that is now the Camden Community Law Centre?

  • Dr Wanda Wyporska (@WandaWyporska)

    What about the premises of the Pizza Express? It’s large and airy and surely would make a great cinema? There needs to be an official petition and Friends of Kentish Town Cinema established FKTC -let’s get a campaign going with Saturday mornings for the kids as well.

  • Tara E

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes x

  • Joe

    Yes, I agree we need a cinema in KT, please.

  • Beckie

    Cinema: yes please! And yes a cool, down-to-earth art house cinema would be perfect.

  • Gabby

    YES YES YES!! An Everyman in KT would make me so very happy!!

  • Kentishtowner

    Just to update you all – we have forwarded the feature and comments to Everyman…so watch this space…

  • Carolyn

    Yes! My vote for a cinema in KT!