Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1119730

Date first listed: 01-May-1998



Ordnance survey map of FORMER GALA BINGO HALL
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Wandsworth (London Borough)

National Grid Reference: TQ 26996 75264


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


TQ 27 NE 1207/2/10094

ST JOHN'S HILL, SW11 Former Gala Bingo Hall


GV II* Former Granada Cinema, became bingo club after July 1980. 1937 by Cecil Masey, H R Horner and Leslie Norton, with interior design by Theodore Komisarjevsky. Brick with rendered dressings. Auditorium lies parallel to St John's terminating in a high stage house 'fly tower'. Rounded profile to entrance on left-hand corner, with further rounded angles on facade facing Plough Road, inspired by contemporary Dutch modernist work. Five paired windows on first floor above main entrance surrounded by Moderne mouldings in painted render. Roundel windows at second floor level and parapet with channelled brickwork. Long line of windows on St John's Hill front lit former cafe (now offices).

Interior. Simply decorated wind lobby leads to double-height foyer with galleries on two sides, stairs on the third side and mirrors between pilasters on the upper half of the fourth side - which gives an impression of greater space. Pilasters with composite capitals at upper level. Wrought iron balustrade to balconies and stairs. Ceiling divided by beams, suspended from which are elaborate double stage glass chandeliers whose shades have castellated tops. Upper level on auditorium side forms foyer to balcony with walls of arch-topped mirrors flanked by barley-sugar detached columns and niches. Large auditorium on two levels originally seated approximately 3,001 spectators, with elaborate classical decoration in fibrous plaster. Proscenium has triple superimposed pilasters with composite capitals, surmounted by an entablature and a frieze of scrolling acanthus leaves. Stage area now accommodates extra bingo tables, but remains separately defined, reached via steps. Ante-proscenium splay walls arranged as plinth, main storey and attic with acanthus decoration extended overall from the proscenium frieze. Plinths with coupled consoles of fish-scale decoration supporting decorated frieze at string level. Main storey treated as tripartite composition with central niches (flanked by twin half-columns under segmental pediments) filled with allegorical painted panels of classical female figures to symbolise music. Flank panels in openwork fibrous plaster mask ventilation grilles. Serpentine fronted balcony typical of Cecil Masey's work, the ends terminating in three rows of cascading 'loge' seating. Junction of ante-proscenium splay with balcony walls masked by angle features in the form of coupled round-headed niches divided by a pilaster and embellished with arabesques, masks of tragedy and comedy and with festoons in the tops. Balcony side walls with hexagonal ashlar blockwork in the plaster and three twin niches separated by colonettes with barley-sugar twists. Entrance to balcony via two vomitories against the side walls. Ceiling over front stalls area enriched with central roundel with arabesque decoration supporting large round light fitting with castellated shades as in foyer; flanking subsidiary roundels. Main ceiling over balcony with central attic section, all enriched with arabesque and scrolling acanthus. Original seating in balcony , with seat end standards enriched with classical decoration. Honeycomb decoration on rear balcony wall. Balcony soffit with coffering in rear section.

Included because of the exceptional elaboration and quality of the decoration by Komisarjevsky, the most remarkable designer of cinema interiors to work in Britain. This is his most ambitious surviving scheme in the clasical mode, and is outshone only by his two listed Gothic works- at Tooting (LB Wandsworth) and Woolwich (LB Greenwich). The interior represents the culmination in the genre of the sumptuosly decorated super cinema of the 1930's, a style celebrated by the promoter of this cinema, Sidney, later Lord Bernstein, as escapist and luxurious atmosphere most appropriate for a night out for the masses at the time.

Sources: David Atwell, Cathedrals of the Movies', 1980, Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain', 1996.

Listing NGR: TQ2699675264


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 469252

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Atwell, D, Cathedral of the Movies: A History of British Cinemas and their Audiences, (1980)
Gray, R, Cinemas in Britain: One Hundred Years of Cinema Architecture, (1996)

End of official listing