Fancy having your name inscribed on the walls of a restored art-deco cinema? There’s a chance in Bromley, South London. Picturehouse Cinema has taken over the 1936 George Coles’ designed Odeon, which more recently has operated as an Empire and then Cineworld cinema and is restoring it to its art-deco grandeur.
George Coles (1884-1963) was one the most famous, and certainly most prolific, architects of the Golden age of Cinema building. Growing up in Leyton, East London he attended Leyton Technical Institute, and after beginning a career in architecture, Coles formed a partnership with Percy Henry Adams in 1912.
Their company acquired a reputation for their cinema designs, and they produced many designs for Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon chain, as well as numerous other cinema chains. Most of their designs were built in the Greater London area, but they also appeared in Brighton, Bournemouth, Halifax and Sheffield, among others.
Two of his most celebrated cinemas are the Gaumont State Kilburn (1937) and Muswell Hill Odeon (1936) both Grade II* listed.
Sadly, of the nearly 90 cinemas that Coles designed the vast majority are no longer cinemas, and a significant proportion have been demolished altogether, making the Bromley building a rare treasure to survive as a working cinema.
It’s a deceptively small looking building from the front, as that’s the original building, but in 1976, a large building added at the back, so that today the main cinema building is around the side behind all the shops — in essence a hidden structure rarely seen from the outside.
As part of the works, they plan to restore the prominent features of the High Street elevation, refurbishing the existing faience frontage, reinstating the original rounded wings to the facade, replacing the existing front doors, and replacing the existing canopy with a slimmer, outward curving canopy as per the original design.
Some changes will also take place inside, such as turning the four cinemas into six screens by adding more space on top of the extension. A lift will also be added, so that for the first time, disabled customers will be able to get into the main cinema.
As part of their opening due later this year, they will put the names of the first 2,000 founder members on a wall in the cinema. Picturehouse Membership lasts one year but as a Founder Member you will get an extra 3 months free from the date the cinema opens.
Membership costs from £62 for the first year.
Founder Members’ benefits, on top of the usual discounts and free tickets:
- Valid for one year from the date the cinema opens, plus an extra three months free.
- Your name in the fabric of the building.
- Start benefiting from your Membership straight away at other Picturehouse Cinemas and with our local and national partners.