Dusashenka, stagedoor (not their real names) and others are contributors to Flickr. But their collections are made extra special as they are of photos of cinemas, many of which no longer exist. Two such cinemas are worth a mention as they were my local cinemas (I say local, both were a car journey away)

© Ian Grundy

The first was the Ruislip Embassy (EMI), once the Astoria (name changed 30/4/67). I vividly remember seeing the movie of “Porridge” here (I was 6). The Ruislip Embassy’s most distinguishing feature was its almost futuristic silver cladding, a feature that could only heighten the magic and excitement as you cue round the corner for half an hour waiting to watch Star Wars or The Black Hole. Thanks to this superb photo collection, we are able to see the cladding removed during the process of it’s demolition, revealing a quite beautiful deco facade, of which I knew nothing about. Alas the deterioration and slow demolition of what, for me were former places of wonder as exciting themselves as the Emerald city, tinges the memory with a rusty edge of sadness and the sober realisation of just how transient even the most seemingly immortal of icons can be. This cinema closed on 28th November 1981 and lay empty until it was demolished in September 1986 and replaced with a McDonalds and Bejams (now Iceland). If ever I acquire vast vast quantities of cash I can assure all readers that I will reclaim the land and the Astoria shall rise once more.

© Dusashenka

The other cinema from my childhood was the Odeon Uxbridge. It was built at the north end of Uxbridge High Street. This would later contribute to it’s demise for as large shopping malls were built (firstly The Pavilions and later The Chimes) the main focus of the High Street moved significantly southwards leaving it a little isolated. The original cinema was pulled down and the redevelopment that still stands included a newer Odeon as well as offices. However this still left it isolated. The current Uxbridge Odeon is now inside The Chimes shopping center where the crowds can’t fail to miss it.

Back to the original cinema and one of my favourite pictures from Dusashenka’s collection is this one showing a hem inspection of the usherettes. At the far end of this photo you can see the empty boards where they used to place picture stills of the movie. Recognizing the scenes in the stills after a movie used to be a real bonus treat (before colour magazines!) And finally this one – crisp from 1938! A taste of Hollywood in Uxbridge. Not as daft as it sounds as Pinewood Studios was established in 1934 less than a few kilometers from here. Much of the surrounding area, including the cinema itself, was often used for location shots in many a film from these studios. The cinema, as I mentioned, was rebuilt with surrounding offices. It was at this cinema where, to date, I watched the only film I’ve ever had to watch again later that week because it was so good. That film was Awakenings back in 1990. The cinema is now a Fitness First gym.

None of this nostalgia would be possible if it weren’t for people like Dusashenka, stagedoor and others. Our thanks to them and all whom generously share these photos online for us all to enjoy. And, of course, reminisce!

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One Response to My first cinemas

by Anthony Pearson

  1. Annette Cooney says:

    Re : The Really Old Uxbridge Odeon – there is a lovely shot of this cinema in one of the carry on films – can’t remember which one – I think possibly CO “at your convenience” with Bernard Bresslaw and Joan Sims riding a scooter and pulling up outside this cinema. It might have that wrong and maybe it wasn’t Bernard Bresslaw or Joan Sims, and it may not have been “at your convenience” – but it was definately a Carry On and definitely a very good shot of the Odeon in it’s heyday.

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