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Old Cinema's of Tottenham

Memories of the Silver Screen's


Let’s all go to the FLICKs.... This was a very familiar cry in the heyday of the cinema in Tottenham dating back to the early 1920’s when many of the former cinemas were built. These were the days long before television and the many other forms of entertainment available to the community today.
So let’s take a tour around the former cinemas of Tottenham and
surrounding districts....but first kindly take your seats !       
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The Palace Cinema

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The largest of Tottenham's Cinemas - now closed

Situated in the High Road opposite Police Station

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Bruce Grove Cinema

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An old photograph of the cinema dating back to 1939 and how it looks today.


Many of the older residents of Tottenham will recall that the cinema show from this era would normally consist of two films, starting with the ‘B’ movie, followed by ‘Pathe News’, ‘Pearl & Dean’ advertisements and perhaps a cartoon before the main film was screened. Unlike today, the films were screened continuously and admission was allowed at any time. Consequently you would often hear the familiar cry of ‘This is where we came in’ and people would vacate their seats part way through the film. The cinema usherette was also there to guide you by torch to a vacant seat and in the intervals she would also sell ice cream and confectionery from a tray supported round her neck.



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The Florida Cinema

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Another favourite cinema of Tottenham –now closed.
It was situated in the High Road almost opposite Ruskin Road. Note the Art-Deco style interior

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The Imperial - West Green Road

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The Imperial or ‘Imp’ was later called the ‘Essoldo’. It has now been converted to a church but the interior is largely the same. To most of the local children it was known as ‘The Flea Pit’ !


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All around the borough there used to be display boards on street corners which advertised forthcoming films that would be shown at your local cinema.
I know that there was one at the junction of Summerhill Road and West Green Road (see above) that promoted the ‘Coliseum’ in Green Lanes and the ‘Bruce Grove Cinema’


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The Mayfair The Corner
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These two cinemas were in South Tottenham. The ‘Corner’, as the name suggests, was on the corner of Seven Sisters Road adjacent to Wards Store and the ‘Mayfair’ was situated on the High Road almost immediately opposite St Ann’s Road.

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'The Regent' 'The Odeon'
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The cinema at Stamford Hill had seen many changes of name over the years. It was originally known as the ‘Regent’ but subsequently changed its name to the ‘Gaumont' and ‘Odeon’. The interior of the cinema was quite lavish as can be seen from the old photographs.


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Early 3D Goggles

The Coliseum - Green Lanes - Harringay

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One of the earliest cinemas, the Coliseum has seen many changes over the years. It was converted to a ‘Bingo’ hall in the 1970’s and, as the picture bottom right shows, it is now largely derelict.

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The Rex Cinema - Ducketts Common - Turnpike Lane

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Situated at the foot of Frobisher Road, yet another cinema that has seen many changes of name, the ‘Premier’, ‘Rex’, and ‘Curzon’ to name but few.


Saturday Morning Pictures

However, I am sure that the vast majority of people will recall with great joy the pleasures of ‘Saturday Morning Pictures’ when children throughout Tottenham, along with brothers sisters and friends, would flock to their local cinema with great excitement on Saturday mornings. And what a treat was in store as you sat down to watch some of the favourite film characters of the day...

Hopalong Cassidy - Tom Mix – Roy Rogers - Cisco Kid - Abbott & Costello - Laurel & Hardy - Rin-Tin-Tin – Lassie -, Zorro and the legendary Lone Ranger and Tonto to name but a few.

But the enjoyment never ended there because you would re-enact these favourite film characters on the way home. With your school raincoat worn like a cape you were transformed into Zorro and any convenient wall was used to jump from. Likewise there were Cowboy and Indian fights when groups of boys would play out the battle they had just seen at the pictures using just a pointed finger or twig to represent a gun.


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The Ritz - Turnpike Lane

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Another fine old cinema once situated on the corner of Carlingford Road, Turnpike Lane


The children of Summerhill Road in the 1950’s would at first have attended the ‘Imperial’ Cinema or ‘Imp’ in West Green Road (also known with great amusement as ..The Fleapit) The cinema was later named the 'Essoldo' but by this time most of the children had gravitated towards the ‘Ritz’ Cinema at Turnpike Lane . At the ‘Ritz’ you could join up to become an ABC Minor and all join in the familiar song ‘We are the ABC minors, the tune of which resembled the old ‘Ovaltineys’ song.

Saturday was the best day of the week. No school and Saturday Morning Pictures. Two hundred screaming children all gathered together in one place and not a teacher in sight. Apart from the films, there was other good stuff. There would be competitions, fancy dress or talent contests.

Each week they would invite children with birthdays’ to come up on stage to collect a small gift of sweets. I was unaware that my brother Ray had so many birthdays as I am sure every six weeks or so he would be up on stage again to collect his gift.
Oh Happy Days !


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For anyone who would care to listen again to the ABC Minors song or have a nostalgic trip back to your youth then simply CLICK on these ‘You Tube’ Clips....




I can also recall, when a pupil at ‘Downhills Junior School’ in 1953, the entire class being paraded up West Green Road and along to the ‘Ritz’ to see the ’Conquest of Everest’ which was a documentary film to mark Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing, and the team led by John Hunt, being the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. This had occurred of course a short time prior to the Queen’s Coronation in June 1953.

In his youth, Ted Willis, a famous son of Tottenham, was a regular visitor to the ‘Imperial’, ‘Premier’ or ‘Coliseum’ cinemas from his home in Stanley Road, Tottenham.

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This is evident by the title of one his early autobiographies in which he writes..

” Every boy must have a hero. From time to time my own need was supplied from legendary figures as Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Douglas Fairbanks and other hard-fighting, hard-riding stars of the films we queued to see at the fourpenny Saturday matinees in the Premier Picture Palace or the Coliseum Cinema”.


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The Gaumont Palace - Wood Green

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Yet another spectacular cinema – The programme dates back to the 1930’s but what a Grand interior !  The picture top left shows the cinema in 1934 and the picture bottom left shows the cinema when it became the 'Odeon' in the 1980's.


The following photographs show some of th earliest cinemas constructed in Tottenham

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The first photograph is of the 'Tottenham Pavilion' with a protest group outside. It was once situated in the High Road close to the location where the Florida was later built. The 'People's Palace' which was situated in Forster Road close to St Loys Road. The second photograph shows the same location today. Nearby Chaplin Road was named after the famous silent movie star.

Extract from ‘How Things Were -1890-1920’ recalling how children would not always have the 1d entrance money to the ‘People’s Palace’ cinema in Forster Road, so they would then bunk into the cinema.
“One of us used to go into the pictures and let all the others in through the exit door. We clubbed together for the money and one would go in. The rest of us would all be round the back waiting. You pushed the door and in they’d all float and disappear amongst the crowds and congregate afterwards.”


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The first photograph shows the location in Bruce Grove today of the former 'Regency' cinema which was later to become a ballroom. The sign can still be seen above the entrance. The second photograph is of the 'Alcazar' cinema in nearby Edmonton. The 'Alcazar' is believed to be one of the first buildings destroyed by bombing in the very first days of the Blitz in 1940.


Cinemas just over the boundary in Edmonton

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We conclude this nostalgic trip around the old cinemas with some views of the 'Regal' and the 'Empire' (later the 'Granada') which were both located in nearby Edmonton. Sadly the Regal has now been replaced by a hideous LIDL store and the old Granada demolished as part of the new Edmonton  Green complex.

Article prepared by Alan Swain - Nov 2010

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