weirdwalthamstow

History of the Granada/EMD talk

In Events on November 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

So last weekend my partner and I went to a smashing talk by Nigel Pitt, a member of the CTA (Cinema Theatre Association) at Mirth, Marvel and Maude. It was held in what was screen 2 in the old cinema (small one on the left). As we’re long time McGuffins members (my partner was one of the founders) we were really keen to go see the state of the cinema.

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There’s now a little bar at the back! Note the mix of wooden benches and original seats.

We filtered in with about 20 people; mostly CTA and local history buffs, I’d imagine. We had some time while the equipment was still being set up so I took the opportunity to have a nose around. Back between the McGuffins original protesting at the restrictive Odeon sales covenant and at the UCKG we were a film club. We would show art house and foreign films in either screen 2 or 3 every month. So it was eerie being back there after so many years.

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The wooden benches look like they have been recovered from a church. Just visible is the carpentry on the feet to make them work on the sloped floor!

Obviously this is not the main auditorium where all the most beautiful architecture is but a lot of the ceiling plasterwork is still in place.

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It was dark so many of my phone camera photos don’t show the detail. This well lit shot reveals the lovely ceiling detail.

The seating was a mix of old cinema seats (original to the EMD I suspect) with some wooden benches in the middle rows. We opted for the padding of the old flip down seats.

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The age of the flip seats is clear.

The Mirth is showing some films as one-off events in this screen. That night they had a showing of ‘Saturday Night Fever’. It’s not exactly commercial cinema but if they achieve a Prince Charles lever of offbeat underground cool (or even, a modern day Scala) then the ‘stow could have a real success story on its hands.

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Nigel had a great collection of old photos to illustrate his talk.

Nigel’s talk started with a potted local history of local cinema in the area up to the construction of the Granada in 1933. This was important as it revealed the scale of the building; it effectively double the number of cinema seats in Waltham Forest (as it is now) by a claimed 3,000 seats (actually 2697). It was a more upmarket than the competition and would have all afternoon shows with films (the first film shown was ‘Splinters’), live organ recitals.

The talk continued walking through its history, making especial note of architectural changes such as the changes due to V1 doodlebug blast damage (the front room was used as a make shift morgue). The change from film to live music in the 50’s and 60’s as TVs became common place in the home (with the obligatory list of famous acts who played here). And on through the Odeon years, the EMD and the McGuffins fight against the UCKG.

Then we had a talk by Mr Hardcastle (sorry, I didn’t get his first name). He was dressed in the elaborate uniform of a cinema commissioner and had been welcoming people as they arrived at Mirth, Marvel and Maude. He talked about the role of the commissioner and how they told people of the showing times (no interweb back then!) and whether there were free seats in the current showing.

At the end the CTA guys had a whip round for local charity Heat or Eat. We got to have a lovely chat with them afterwards. My partner’s parents are CTA members and the association does a lot of work preserving these lovely old buildings as modern places of entertainment.

I really hope that one day soon the main auditorium will be recovered and they can do the same talk in a majestic space. With an organ recital.

 

 

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