Lewisham’s lost cinemas

Lewisham is the last London borough without a cinema. But, back in the 1930s, there were over twenty venues showing films! This page gives more information about some of the cinemas that used to exist throughout the actual borough, including Lewisham Central, Lee, Catford, Downham, Sydenham, Hither Green, Forest Hill, Brockley, Deptford and New Cross.

Lewisham central

Obelisk Cinema Lewisham

The Obelisk, 12 Loampit Vale, Lewisham. Opened in 1912, closed in 1923. Now the site of the Lewisham main bus and rail station.

Gaumont/Odeon Lewisham

Gaumont Palace, 1-5 Loampit Vale. Opened in 1932, later renamed Odeon, closed in 1981 and demolished in 1991. The largest cinema in Lewisham, it initially had 3050 seats.

Prince of Wales Cinema Lewisham

Prince of Wales Cinema, 210 Lewisham High Road. Opened in 1922, closed in 1959 and later demolished.

Kings Hall Lewisham

King’s Hall, 15 High Street, Lewisham. Opened in 1912, bomb-damaged during the second world war. Later known as the Rex Cinema, then Studio 6 & 7. Closed in 1986 and was later demolished. A new house and an access road (Kings Hall Mews) were built on the site.

Studio 6-7 Lewisham

Rex Cinema, later renamed Studios 6/7, 15 Lewisham High Street. Opened in 1950, closed in 1986 and demolished in 1988.

Catford

Eros Hippodrome cinema Catford

The Eros Cinema, 135-137 Rushey Green, Catford. Opened in 1952 in what used to be known as the Hippodrome (which also showed films between 1931 and 1933). Closed in 1959 and was demolished in 1960. The Eros House now sits on the cinema’s location.

Electric Picture Palace Catford

The Electric Picture Palace, 8 Sangley Road in Catford. Opened in 1909. It closed in 1914, the building was demolished in the 1990s and replaced by a bloc of flats.

Deptford

Odeon Deptford

The Deptford Odeon was opened in 1938 on the site of a former the cinema, the Palladium. One of Lewisham’s largest cinemas, the Deptford Odeon had a capacity of ca. 1700. It closed in 1970 and was demolished in 1988. Shops and flats have replaced it.

Broadway New Cross

Broadway Theatre, 496 New Cross Road in Deptford. Converted into a cinema in 1911. In 1955, it was renamed the Century Cinema. It closed in 1960. Demolished in 1963, the theatre was replaced with a row of shops.

Empire New Cross

The New Cross Empire, 483-489 New Cross Road. Closed in 1954 and later demolished. Currently a hand car wash business.

Brockley

Ritz Brockley

The Ritz, 7 Coulgate Road in Brockley. Opened in 1913 as the Brockley Picture Theatre. Later used to be known as Giralda Cinema and New Palladium Cinema. Closed in 1960 and demolished. Now a MOT centre.

Forest Hill

Stanstead Picture Palace, Forest Hill

Stanstead Picture Palace, 12 Wastdale Road in Forest Hill. Opened in 1913, it had a capacity of 825. Later known as the Astoria Cinema, Balmoral Cinema and New Astoria Cinema. Closed in 1955, demolished and replaced with housing.

Sydenham

Queen's Hall Sydenham

The Queen’s Hall Electric Theatre, formerly 22-23 Empire Parade in Sydenham. Opened in 1910. Later re-named the Classic Cinema, then the Naborhood Cinema. Closed in 1943 after being damaged by bombing. Demolished in 1953. The site is now occupied by the the Post Office and the Narborhood Centre (whose name was inspired by the cinema’s last name).

State Cinema Sydenham

The State Cinema, Sydenham Road. Opened in 1931 with a capacity of over a thousand, taken over by the Granada chain in 1949 and then renamed the Granada, it closed in 1971 and was later demolished. The site, on the corner of Girton Road, is now occupied by Somerfield.

Lee

Imperial Picture Theatre Lee

The Imperial Picture Theatre, 404/408 High Road in Lee. Opened in 1913. Later renamed the Savoy and the Pullman Cinema. Closed in 1959 and demolished in 1986. The Sainsbury’s supermarket stands on the site today.

Downham

Splendid Cinema Downham

The Splendid, Bromley Road, Downham. Opened in 1930. It had a capacity of 2244. Closed in 1957, the site is now occupied by a petrol station.

Map of former cinemas in Lewisham

Map of cinemas in Lewisham

This interactive map shows the locations of a most old cinema venues in Lewisham with further information, pictures and links.

If you are interested to learn more about the history of cinemas in Lewisham, we recommend two booklets written by local historian Ken George  (Two Sixpennies Please: Lewisham’s Early Cinemas and The Big Five: Lewisham’s Super Cinemas, available from the Lewisham libraries) as well as cinematreasures, the London Project and, for archive photographs, dusashenka.

All photos and photomontages are copyrighted. With thanks to the Lewisham Local History & Archive Centre and dusashenka.

104 thoughts on “Lewisham’s lost cinemas

  1. Electric Palace closed as a cinema in dec 1954, it was converted into a supermarket, and, in the early 60’s changed to bingo. In 1989 the Palace became a snooker hall, which I believe is the case today. Highly unlikely ” TITANIC” appeared there though.

  2. It’s now finally here Empire cinema is now opened in the London borough of Waltham Forest Walthamstow. it’s just now you Lewisham the only London borough without a cinema I hope you guys get one soon good luck in the future it would be nice to see one open up there hopefully soon

  3. Checking on old pics of the Rex, the lampost outside the LH front has never changed, pre war, 50s etc, even after the cinema had gone the same lampost remains by the road name. Did you ever receive my pics of early lewisham cinemas ?

  4. Check back Linda, prior to Studio 6 7 it was the Rex from 1951′ always billed as “lewisham’s luxury cinema”, and prior to that it was the Kings Hall until it was bombed in,I think 1941.

  5. These are absolutely fascinating and just show the vandalism that has gone on over the years. I have lived here since 1990 and am struggling to remember the Gaumont Palace which must have still been standing then. Hopefully it will come back, but that area is so different now, and changing again.

  6. I grew up in Catford during the War & knew most of the above Cinemas/Theatres. Haven’t been back since 1970’s. The Queen’s Hall, about 3 ‘shops’ along from The Hippodrome (and with a Turner’s Sweetshop next door to the left?) seems to be missing from your list. 1 other Cinema which you may not know of is The Rivolli Cinema (now The Rivolli Ballroom) just alongside the railway bridge where the B218 crosses.

    • My Dad went to the Queen’s Hall, Rushey Green many times and well remembers, when people were allowed to smoke in the cinema, by late in the evening you could hardly see the screen for the smoke rising from the stalls!

    • I think Hilary is thinking of the New Cross Kinema at the corner of Clifton Rise and New Cross Road – opposite the Marquis of Granby p.h. My friend’s parents were uniformed members of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and were on duty most Saturday evenings at the New Cross Kinema and we used to be admitted for nothing and got to sit in the back stalls – amongst the courting couples! There was an Irish dance club upstairs in the same building which I only got to visit once. As it didn’t have a bar we had to get a “pass out” to visit the pub across the road. Memories, memories. The late Spike Milligan mentions this cinema and having to walk home to Riseldene Road,Honor Oak after performing in a dance band there.

  7. I remember the Odeon Lewisham well. There was a “Victor Sylvester” dance studio in the building…The windows at the front of the cinema were in fact the dance-studio’s windows. I enjoyed very many wonderful evenings learning to dance, treading on toes end popping round to the Roebuck dive-bar (behind the cinema) in the interval, to find some Dutch courage to ask a partner if I could take her home after the dance)!!

  8. A couple that appear to be missing…The Park Cinema, Hither Green Lane also the Queen’s next to the old Lewisham Hippodrome. oh! the Plaza, Catford.

  9. Hi, I’ve been living over in Germany now for over 40 years but in 1965 I queued up all night in front of the Odeon Lewisham to get tickets for the Beatles concert there. Needless to say you couldn’t hear anything for all the screaming. I went there a few years ago to show it to my wife but all I found was a burnt down parking lot. Very sad. Apart from that as a kid I was a member of the Saturday morning ABC childrens club in Catford. I still have the anthem in my head. “We are the children all well known as, minors of the (very loud) A B C. etc. Fond memories.
    Bill

  10. I used to be an usherette at the Lewisham Odeon late 60’s. I remember I had to on odd occasions climb onto the roof to the projectionist ,who had fallen asleep and the film needed to be changed. I also remember if we heard the tune of “three blind mice” we had to go to the fire exit ,as that was to let the staff know there was a fire in the cinema. Luckily there was no fires .
    I have some old 1950’s Odeon programmes.

  11. Regarding the Queen’s cinema in Catford. Does anyone remember the really short commissionaire who was a Marty Feldman lookalike (each eye looking in a different direction?). I remember a Saturday night in the late fifties when a pal and I were in one of the queues outside (probably the one and sixpennies) when he came out to the front and suddenly saw someone he new across the main road, he gave them a wave, problem was each queue thought he was looking at them them, All hell let use when both queues made a rush to get into the cinema (after all it was tipping it down at the time). Not sure if he survived or was trampled to death but it took quite a while to sort out the mess. Have another incident to tell at a later date.

  12. Thank you all for these comments that bring my youth back to life with so much pleasure and nostalgia. I spent so many happy times in the Odeon Lewisham ‘(cinema and dance-hall) and knew the area well. I was from Poplar and so, for me, it was quite posh in Lewisham, at the time.

    • Yes, Robert, I do. It was called “The Broadway” and because it had previously been a theatre there were pillars throughout the auditorium, however one soon adjusted if unfortunate enough to be sat behind one. Epic adventures screened there in my time were “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “The Quatermass something or other” with Brian Donleavy. When the script alluded to the creature having been seen in the Deptford area, an enormous cheer went up in the cinema! I worked in Deptford High Street at the time and so it was convenient to go there after work

      • It was closed when me & my brother play inside we found reels of old films which we unravelled great fun ,gained access at the rear in Tanners hill no seating stage still in place fairly derelict .Live local in Malpas rd. Laburnum hse

  13. In July 1912 an application was made to the London County Council to open an Open Air Cinema, with capacity for 430 people, in the large rear garden of “The Priory”, 410 High Street, Lewisham, but it was refused on the advice of the London Fire Brigade, which was concerned about crowds leaving from the narrow rear entrances.,

  14. Great page well done, most brought back memories of times gone by, I know it’s progress but I would like to think some of these great buildings could have been saved, a carwash replaced one of these buildings really?
    how sad, once again great photos.

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