Sunday, 8 August 2010

From Egypt to Mecca and (via Reg Varney) salvation

The sad decline of a magnificent Egyptian-style cinema in Essex Road, Islington, London, may soon be halted. According to the website Cinema Treasures, the building has now been bought by a church. "There are plans to create two small spaces beneath the circle, while the original circle and front stalls will be used for church services on Sundays. The church also plans to reopen as a cinema, using the circle seating area and converting the former cafe area into a second screen," the website reports. 

The former Carlton Cinema, now a Grade II* Listed building, was created by Architect George Coles. The Egyptian-style facade is created with multi-coloured Hathernware tiles. There are other Egyptian touches in the foyer.

The Carlton opened in 1930 with Harold Lloyd in "Welcome Danger" and in 1935 was taken over by Associated British Cinemas Ltd. It was later re-named ABC in 1962. The last film shown was "Mutiny on the Buses" with Reg Varney in 1972. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the cinema then closed. For the next 35 years, the building used as a Mecca Bingo Club, until closing in March 2007. The smoking ban was blamed for the declining number of bingo players. 

Read more: Cinema Treasures 

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