Map of cinemas in Lewisham

Following our earlier post about cinemas in Lewisham, we did a bit of digging and have created an interactive map of Lewisham, showing the locations of former cinema venues in the borough.

Map of old cinemas in Lewisham

We are indebted to local historian Ken George, who published two very informative and richly illustrated booklets about the history of cinemas in Lewisham, Two Sixpennies Please: Lewisham’s Early Cinemas and The Big Five: Lewisham’s Super Cinemas. We are also grateful to the Lewisham local history and archives centre as well as other websites and blogs which have helped us in the creation of the map.

And since we are going down memory lane, here is a photomontage of what Brockley would look like today if the Ritz Cinema were still standing:

The Ritz on Coulgate Road, Brockley

The Ritz originally opened on 27 September 1913 as the Brockley Picture Theatre. It had a capacity of 700 and tickets were priced at 3d. (then the cost of half a dozen of eggs) and 6d. The cinema was later renamed the Brockley Palladium, the Giralda, the New Palladium and finally the Ritz. On 2 December 1929, the cinema showed its first talkie, The Broadway Melody. After changing hands several times, it finally closed in 1956 and was later demolished. The site is now occupied by a garage and MOT centre.

A number of cinemas were simply named fater the locality in which they were built and local people tended to think of them as ‘their cinemas’. The Brockley Cinema was no exception to that rule… The Brockley News for October 1913 stated ‘Daintily served teas are provided and everything is done to make visitors comfortable. The result is they go again and again!’ For the patrons’ further delight, the Waldovski string band was engaged ‘at enormous expense’, which was taking a chance, as no music licence had been applied for, or given…

(Extract from ‘Two Sixpennies Please: Lewisham’s Early Cinemas by Ken George)

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5 thoughts on “Map of cinemas in Lewisham

  1. How wonderful to see a photograph of the Ritz Cinema superimposed on the area of Coulgate Street Brockley, where it once stood. I had forgotten how grand it had originally been. As a former resident of Brockley we children loved our local cinema and visited at every possible occasion – especially when it was showing two “U”s and we could get in without having to approach an adult to take us in. I saw my very first “X” film there by pretending to be 16 although only 15 at the time. It was “La Ronde” and I didn’t really understand it, but it had a haunting theme tune which went on to become well known. It was foggy that particular night and the cinema was filled with fog!
    The cinema belonged to a local small chain which included The Rivoli at Crofton Park and also The Savoy, somehwere in the Forest Hill area. As that was a bus ride away I only remember going there once and have no memory of where it was. Perhaps your archivist can help?

  2. Pingback: Lewisham cinemas if they still existed today «

  3. Thanks Alex for your recollections. The only local Savoy Cinema I could find was in Lee, formerly known as the Imperial Picture Palace and later renamed the Pullman Cinema.

  4. I wrote in this section, but, have had no reaction from you, I have a considerable knowledge regarding earlier Lewisham cinemas, I nfact I worked in two of them inthe ’50s, the Rex & the Eros , Catford. I would be most happy to share my experiences & memories with your organisation, should you be interested. Incidentally, the Imperial-Savoy- Pullman was at Lee Green between the police station & the Quaggy river, also there was no mention of the Park cinema,Hither Green Lane, or the Capitol Forest Hill. Congrats on such splendid graphics.. My phone number : 02085491981.

  5. As a teenager growing up in Catford I went to all the wonderful, much loved cinemas in the borough of Lewisham, even the Park where I saw my first X film, ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’.
    Highlights, the horror film with a skeleton flying over the audience at the Eros, ‘Jailhouse Rock, athe Plaza, ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ at the Prince of Wales and ‘Genevieve’ at The Rex complete with train noises from the railway bridge outside! Chris Welch

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