Sunday, 11 May 2014

Cinematograph Theatre Continuous Performance

I was thrilled to find this sign in a sad, dark, scruffy alley in Shepherd’s Bush, London, even though it greatly challenged my slight photography skills. It’s a survivor. The Cinematograph Theatre was opened by the wonderfully named Montagu Pyke in 1910. Pyke was a chancer, whose varied career before he opened his chain of cinemas included gold prospector, shop assistant, miner and salesman of advertising space, hair restorer and patent pills. His confidence in his new Cinematograph Theatre Continuous Performance must have been great, as he carved his prices into such lasting signage.

The theatre was beset by problems, including Pyke’s bankruptcy in 1915, too little electrical power to screen the films in the 1920s and fire in 1968. It underwent multiple takeovers and name changes, including the Palladium, New Palladium, Essoldo, Classic and Odeon, and had a second career as a bar: The Bottom Line and – finally - as a Walkabout, which closed in 2013. Long may the sign live on.


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