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.

132 thoughts on “Lewisham’s lost cinemas

  1. The loss of these (well many of them) is like a catalogue of crimes against architecture. Is it the only London Borough without a cinema now?

  2. Not sure that made grammatical sense but you get the drift. Any old cinema buildings left? The Rivoli was a cinema at one time wasn’t it or was it always a ballroom? Also there is still the New Cross Kinema (AKA The Venue).

  3. Hello James, there are quite a few buildings still standing, like the Rivoli and the Venue as you correctly suggested, as well as the Coronet in Forest Hilll, the Globe in Hither Green, the ABC/Cannon in Catford and a few others. We will add some info about the remaining buildings to this page soon. We will also double-check but our understanding is that Lewisham, with Waltham Forest, are the only two London boroughs without a permanent cinema.

  4. I am excited about your idea.Used to live in Lewisham a while back. I like exploring urban history encoded in the structure of our surroundings.

  5. What a great project! Thanks for sharing this, and what a loss some of those buildings are – that deco Deptford Odeon was amazing!

  6. Absolutely great feature, I worked at some of these cinemas, & have a considerable knowledge of many of them, especially the Hippodrome. I am a regular contributor to The Cinema Theatre Association. I am not a professional speaker, but, would be most happy to speak on the subject of Lewisham cinema history. Gery Collins.

  7. This is a very interesting site – very enterprising to superimpose the old images of these long forgotten cinemas in their modern (former) settings. I knew, or know of all of these places, and the Lewisham Odeon was the first cinema that I was ever taken to (I later attended the Saturday Morning “Super Show” there). Thanks for the memories! The Rink Cinema at Sydenham, in Silverdale, would have been another good one, if you have a photo.

  8. Don’t forget the Park Cinema in Hither Green Lane. The building is still there, opposite the entrance to the old Park Hospital. I spent many happy hours in what was known as the ‘local flea pit’ in the 1950s, similarly the Savoy at Lee Green which you mention and most of the others. I think there was also a small cinema next to the Eros at Catford which was, certainly in the 50s/60s anyway, known as the Gaumont Catford. Just for info, I worked for the ABC chain in the 60s as an assistant manager (in the days when we had to look like managers and put on evening dress after 6.30) and worked at the ABC Beckenham, ABC Croydon, Capitol Forest Hill and the Ritz at Chatham. Beckenham still survives today in all its Art Deco splendour, albeit converted to multi-screen. Thanks for the time and effort you have put into this; brings back many happy memories.
    Ray Dunkley

    • Your Gaumont next to the Eros Catford was originally the Queens.My brother was the projectionist there in 1957 The Eros was formerly the Hippodrome, a Theatre and Concert Hall

    • I too remember the Park Cinema. I lived in Theodore Road so it was handy for me with the films changing 3 times a week. You also got to see 2 films at a time. My mum always said do not rest your head on the seat as you might catch fleas. She did not know some films you had to have an adult accompany you so my friend and I used to wait and ask an adult to take us in.

  9. Spencer: Thank you for your post. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a good archive photograph of the Rink Cinema in Sydenham to produce a montage. If anyone was in possession of one, please get in touch!

  10. Wonderful project Jack, enjoyed very much. I lived next to the Lewisham Odeon in those flats above the shops (all gone now) before and after it was demolished. With friends I used to explore the interior, which was hauntingly ‘enigmatic’ as it had been shut down for years and by torch light we always seemed to discover a new aspect each time we went in. I remember after sometime we discovered the old Paradise Garage disco – with mirror balls still in place! What a shame it is no more (who was it who said nothing devours history as much as car parks?). I was in the area recently (after last being there in 96/97) and noticed that the old (ghastly) CitiBank building is looking empty and unused (am I correct?), ironic. I don’t think many would mourn, should it share the same fate as the odeon… Thanks.

  11. Thanks for sharing your memories Craig! I understand that the CitiBank building “is currently used as a decant office to relocate staff and operations in the event of problems at the main Citibank office in Canary Wharf” (the Deputy Mayor’s words).

  12. Such beautiful buildings (on the whole), replaced with something much worse (on the whole). Great Gallery.

  13. Can anybody please help me in finding the excact location of Mr Smith’s club in Rushey Green SE6. I am guessing it was on the site where Eros House now stands near the old Hippadrome?
    I have since been informed it may have been at 75 Rushey Green SE6 and was previously the Savoy / Witchdoctor. Can anybody confirm this and the excact Location.
    Thank you in advance for all your help.
    Mark.

    • I met my husband in the 1950’s at the Savoy. Later it became Mr Smith. It was not on the site of Eros house but at the end of Catford high street could be 75 Rushey Green.
      Jane Wilson

      • re Mr smiths club, if you check comments on the web site dated 28/12/11, you will see where the Savoy ballroom, later Mr Smiths was located in Catford, The Eros cinema was not near the Hippodrome site, it replaced it, following demolition in 1960/61, one of the biggest wastes ever of a magnificent theatre. Nowadays of course the Lewisham Hippodrome & indeed th Lewisham Gaumont would be regarded as treasures & jealously protected..Gery Collins.

    • It was a little way along towards rushy green opposite Aldis, it was called the Savoy and I saw the Rolling Stiones there live in 1964

    • Savoy was dancing then night club in 1965 or 1966 Savoy on corner then place to buy birds dogs snakes lot’s everything else there.

  14. Mark, the Savoy ballroom,later Mr Smiths was at 75 Rushey Green , If you google earth it you will find it is still there, but, as a shop named Mattuci. It was a ballroom before the war, during the war it was taken over by the government for social services, indeed my Mum went there regularly to get her orange juice & cod liver oil allowance for us kids. I believe it remained closed after the war & was later reopened as Mr Smiths , for dancing & gaming,not too reputable , in fact, i think someone was murdered there. Incidently I am trying to assemble a history of the Lewisham Hippodrome formerly situated on the corner of Brownhill road & Rushey Green. If any one has photos or programmes or anything to do with this Frank Matcham theatre I would love to hear from you…Gery Collins.

  15. Hi Gery,
    Thank you so much for your reply and excellent information.
    You have now confirmed what I thought that Mr Smith’s was at 75 Rushey Green, I was getting it confused with the Hippodrome which I believe once stood where Eros House now stands.
    You are correct regarding a murder taking place there. I believe through history books I have been reading that the murder took place on the 8th March 1966 in the early hours of the morning.
    There was a gangland fight which started inside the club between to rival London gangs and I believe the one who was murdered was a close associate of the Krays.
    Thank you once again for your kind help and like wise if you know of any links to pictures of this club during it’s heyday please let me know. If I find any local pictures of the Hippodrome I will contact you.
    Kind regards,
    Mark.

  16. Hi Bernard,
    From information I have received I believe it was called the Witchdoctor before Mr Smiths.
    I was famous for many well known 1960’s Bands who played there.
    I believe this information to be correct but if anybody knows different please correct me.

  17. hi thank you for your information, been scratching my head for ages trying to remember it,,,

  18. Fantastic memories, I got thrown out of Sydenham Granada for lighting matches and I remember when we would sneak friends in the exit door. Great days

  19. Born & raised in Borough of Lewisham all my life, I remember some of them But I think you forgot one there was a Cinema on the corner of Bromley Plassy rd which is now been converted into a church. Thanks for posting, Great memories. 🙂

  20. Fasinating research and really innovative way to illustrate it … shame on Lewisham Council no cinema …. we missed the development boat on Lewisham 2000 … as we used to joke Lewisham 3000 is more like it …

  21. This is a superb archive! Much appreciated…

    You may well be interested to check out our facebook page “Cinema for Camberwell Green”

    Our photos folder “Great Lost Cinemas of South East London” doesn’t just concentrate on Southwark but Lewisham too. We have some spectacular photos of the Deptford & Lewisham Odeons as well as the ABC/Capitol in Forest Hill. Enjoy!

    This will be a photo archive of all the beautiful cinemas that we have lost in South East London. Many relate to venues…

    Posted by Cinema for Camberwell Green on Friday, February 19, 2010

  22. I was the last Assistant Manager of Lewisham Odeon. At close it had 2858 seats – a number I can still remember. This should have been the Hammersmith Odeon of South of the river. Ruined by bad Management and Rank’s lack of interest.

    • Hi Michael – Fascinated to learn that you were the last Assistant Manager at Lewisham Odeon before it sad closure in February 1981, although in reality it would probably have closed a few months earlier if it hadn’t been for the fact that “The Who” had been booked to play there, for which Rank kept it open for a little bit longer. Apparently, the last chief projectionist, Jack Horner, very sadly drunk himself to death with his redundancy pay. I am (slowly) putting together an illustrated history of the Odeon with the intention of an article on it, so it would be great if you could get in touch as you could probably help me with various bits of ‘missing’ information. Many thanks – email:spencerphobbs@aol.com

      • if i can help e mail me, i was projectionist at the Rex & the Eros, I know a lot re the Gaumont hippodrome & local cinemas.

    • I was a member of the Savoy Social club on the ground floor, the Savoy dance hall was upstairs and club members could go between the two. The whole building was turned into a Night Club Casino which was called ‘Mr Smith and the Witchdoctor’.
      The building was near Rosenthal Rd. Next to what is now a Petrol Station. Following a gang fight and a murder it lost its Licence and was closed down about 1966 or 67

      Ut

    • Michael Fisher: I used to work for Bromley Odeon (mid-80s) when you were managing that! Now Rank are only involved in online casinos having sold off all their interest in the film industry including Pinewood Studios where my office is. It would be lovely to catch up with you sometime.
      Ike Khan

      • It only takes two years for me to reply. I remember you well. I’m now living in Bristol. What about you?

  23. DID YOU RECEIVE DETAILS I SENT ABOUT THE “IDEAL CINEMA” IN NEW CROSS THAT WAS BOMBED IN WW2. IF NOT , COUL I SEND THEM AGAIN.

  24. What a great site, thank you so much. I played the Granada Woolwich in the late 50s before the film, also Sat morning shows at the Odeon Woolwich. Saw Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent at the Granada in 1960. Saturday morning pictures at the Granada Greenwich and Roxy Blackheath. There was another cinema next to Greenwich baths, I think it was an Odeon. We used to call it the Traf because it was on Trafalgar road. I first met the Everly Bros backstage at the Gaumont/Odeon Lewisham in 1963, I ended up playing with them for 24 years from ’83. Great memories, thank you.

  25. Saw you play down The Roebuck in Lewisham a couple of times. Also saw Tom Jones, Rockin’ Berries, Dave Clark 5, & Julie Rogers, play the Granada Woolwich in 1964. I remember in my manor Plumstead, there was the Century cinema and another in Beresford Square in Woolwich. They were known as ‘The Fleapits’! Dennis Munday Incidently, I have lived in Italy for 10 years and when I went back this year, I noticed a lot of pubs have closed down. sad!

  26. The Electric Picture Palace in Catford (or its sucessor) was still open in 1998 because I took my family to see Titanic there. I think it closed later that year.

  27. The children’s Saturday morning cinema at the Gaumont Lewisham used the side entrance rather than the main one possibly because there was a long line of young uns waiting to go in. Late 50’s the lower floor would be packed must of been a thousand plus.

  28. When The Beatles played in 1963 they were back up act to Chris Montez and closed the first half . The place was rammed out but after they finished it just emptied leaving poor Montez to play to an almost empty theatre.

  29. I remember when i was 11 going to the Cannon Cinama at Lewisham to see Spies Like us Cannon had a promotion running on Mondays see any film for £1 those where the good old days of cinama not like now where there is no promotions at all

  30. The Beatles played Lewisham Odeon on 8th December 1963 as the headline act. I know. I was there! Went backstage to meet them… you can learn more and see a photo here: http://www.R4949.com...
    In 1964 I saw Millie (Small) – My boy Lollipop – at a venue on corner of Plassy Road and Brownhill Road – it was over a shop – possibly a tailors? – anyone remember this as a venue? What was it called? What was the shop? Why isn’t my memory working properly?

  31. So interesting and very sad – some lovely buildings gone . Seem to remember a cinema in Blackheath Standard area where there is now a M + S

  32. Great post! Though you’ve missed the Kinema which is still standing and is now The Venue on New Cross Road. I know it’s a successful club but I’d love to see it returned to a cinema or at least, for one of the rooms to be converted into a small cinema, with perhaps a cafe / bar on the ground floor during the day where the original entrance was.

    • Thanks for your comment, freethinker. Although we haven’t listed the New Cross cinemas on the homepage (we will in the near future), you will find the Kinema on our map of lost cinemas under its original name, the New Cross Super Cinema.

      • All that remains of the New Cross Kinema, later Gaumont is the front section & not the auditorium itself, so non chance of much happenning there.

  33. Gery Collins, ( one time projectionist at Lewishams Rex & the Eros Catford, also Empire Leicester Square, London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus & Pinewood Studios. says:

    To my knowledge, nothing seems to be planned for the Lewisham area. Other blackspots are Ealing, Tooting, which has the cathedral of all British cinema buildings,Brent, Dagenham, & Walthamstow. Ironically in Kingston upon Thames there are 14 Odeon screens with 3 more planned by Curzon in the old ABC Regal building.If Kingston has this many its strange an area the size of Lewisham that used to have approx 20 cinemas has none.

  34. Stumbled across the website and now book marked. Thank you for such a wonderful job, well done. Wow some much history gone and so many memories. Grew up in New Cross and visited both Lewisham Odeon and Studio 6 & 7, remember seeing Gumball Rally in 6&7. Not quite in Lewisham but remember a cinema in New Cross near the Old Kent Road and Ilderton Avenue not on the map, would be good to know more about it. Looking at the map brings back so many memories of the area, so many familiar names and places, really feel somewhat emotional. Went to secondary school in Deptford and remember the Deptford Odeon, for all the wrong reasons, was saddened when it was pulled down. Have very vague memories of a massive toy and sports shop opposite the road, can’t member what that was called though!

  35. I. Walthamstow will have a new cinema opening up in November also the Soho company have plans for the old Emd picture house in Hoe Street E 17 . So after 11 years without any picture houses it looks like we will have two right next door to each other

  36. I wonder if the site moderator, or anyone else, can back up Mike Jones’ claim that the Electric Picture Palace in Catford (or its sucessor) was still open in 1998? It’s just that I have no recollection whatever of any cinema in Sangley Road and conclude the building had been converted by the time I started visiting local cinemas. Mind you, I had completely forgotten the ‘Gaumont Catford’ next to the Eros until I read Ray’s posting. I remember seeing ‘Strategic Air Command’ there and being knocked out by the photography and colour. Reference the murder at Mr Smiths, 8th March 1966, I do remember very vividly the story in the local rag giving lurid details of the trail of blood between the club and Rushy Green where the poor victim expired. Do Albert or Denis remember the name of the C&W group that played in the Roebuck on Sunday nights circa 1965? What happened to them?

    • Re Marks comments 28/8/14, Strategic air command, was a paramount film, the visual aspect would have been superb as it was shot in VistaVision, and as the Gaumont Catford had such a pokey little screen it would have appeared pin sharp. We also had this film at the Rex lewisham. I often hear comments re the This cinema after it was sold to Star & run as Studio whatever it was. Their reputation for running cinemas was pretty poor. in1966 as the Rex it was a beautifully run cinema. The problems were as I remember , the chief, Stan, always ran the sound too low, this was unfortunate as the railway ran directly behind the screen, also because of the restricted proscenium width CinemaScope could not be shown correctly, it had to fit into the existing wide screen, the anamorphics were adjusted to stretch the picture vertically which meant people appeared slightly thinner &stalker, & circles turned into ovals.geryco@live.co.uk

      • Without a doubt Gery, your Rex was by far and away our favourite in the 50/60s and living in Catford at the time. Cosy and special – those illuminated urns on the facade gave it a bit of class!
        Mike

  37. the electric palace catford closed when the central hall, later plaza, opened approx 75 years ago. the “gaumont” was originally the Queens Hall cinema, it closed the same night as the Eros cinema next door. I AM TRYING TO SEND SOME EARLY PICS OF LEWISHAM CINEMAS, BUT TO NO AVAIL AT THE BROCKLEY JACK SITE, HAS IT ALL FOLDED OR DOES SOMEONE HAVE A CORRECT E MAIL ADDRESS ?

    • Hi Gery, Many thanks for your comments. Please feel free to contact us by clicking on the Contact tab.

  38. Absolutely brilliant! But you forgot The Electric Palace in Deptford High Street. But maybe because the building still stands.

    • I wrote a post earlier about the cinema buildings still standing. You are correct, the building which housed the Electric Palace has survived… See post.

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