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years as the downturn in admissions began to bite. It is therefore all the more important to retain what survives. This is what our listing project is designed to achieve. In general terms statutory listing works, and owners of redundant cinemas find new uses for them. Bingo has been the great saviour of very large auditoria in run down suburbs with no possibility of a community or some other arts use. The Granada, Tooting for example retains its splendid interiors but much of the atmosphere has been lost through taking the stage into the auditorium and raising the light levels so that the public are able to see their game cards.
More intractable cases include the Rialto, Coventry Street in the West End which has been ‘dark’ for almost nine years. The rent for such a gilt-edged site seems to preclude films and a scheme for conversion to a shopping arcade was wisely rejected by the Westminster City Council. The Rialto has no backstage space at all otherwise live theatre use might be the answer. The problem must be addressed soon as the interior decorations are suffering from dampness not helped by the ground floor being pressed into service for site works (including concrete mixers) for the alterations to the Trocadero complex on the other side of Rupert Street.
Occasionally in historic areas we find a reluctance by the local planning authority to take a listed cinema seriously. A building so obviously recent is treated as devoid of interest and regarded as a ‘lung’ in which to contemplate redevelopment within a sea of Georgian or older ‘respectable’ buildings. One example concerns a remarkable interior designed in 1929 to complement its adjacent genuine medieval foyer. Other comparable interiors in the same style (of which there were few) have vanished. This leaves this auditorium unique both here and abroad. Consent has been
granted and unless the owners change their mind it is likely to be hideously subdivided despite it being listed Grade II* and within the curtilage of a scheduled ancient monument. Reversible the subdivisions might be, but when in our lifetime? Representations to the planning authority and the local MP (who has a very direct connection with heritage matters) fell on deaf ears. Only the recession has saved this fine interior so far.
Other case histories have been happier, although sometimes inconclusive. The Rex, Berkhamsted (1938, Grade II) is the best remaining example of the cinema work of the architect David Evelyn Nye. Paradoxically, Nye went on in post-war years to become a successful conservation architect with the National Trust and other organisations and only saw his cinema designs for the small London suburban chain of Shipman and King as a meal ticket. His splendidly festive Art Deco auditorium designed in
collaboration with the fibrous plaster specialists Mollo and Egan survives, although cut up into smaller spaces. It has been derelict for some years although the local authority defeated a demolition application at a public inquiry with our help. Now there is hope that the Rex might become part of a conference centre with the original appearance of the building restored.
The Cinema Theatre Association is not a statutory body but can advise with applications on listed cinemas, on their contextual importance and suitable future use.


Richard Gray is Chairman of the Cinema Theatre
Association and also works for English Heritage. The
Association can be contacted at 40 Winchester Street,
London SWI V4NF Tel: 071 -834 0549.
Grosvenor, Rayners Lane, Harrow (Architect: Frederick Bromidge, 1936). Listed Grade II*. The facade has recently been totally restored after a period of neglect.
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