Rainbow Theatre, former cinema


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
232-238, Seven Sisters Road, Islington


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Statutory Address:
232-238, Seven Sisters Road, Islington

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Islington (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 31221 86515


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 16/04/2020

TQ3186NW 635-1/16/766

ISLINGTON SEVEN SISTERS ROAD (South side) Nos.232-238 (Even) Rainbow Theatre, former cinema 16/01/74 II* Former cinema, built as the Finsbury Park Astoria. 1930, to the designs of Edward A. Stone, date and architect recorded in a panel to right of the entrance; interior decoration by Tommy Somerford and Ewen Barr. White faience with green faience dressings to wedge-shaped front in Seven Sisters Road and Isledon Road, red brick to rear; roof obscured by parapet.

The front of three storeys, with five-window range in Seven Sisters Road and seven-window range in Isledon Road, the corner rising to a tower with a broad canted three-storey bay in front. The bay has a flat-arched entrance with impost bands of palm leaves, the awning a replacement; green faience panel above to centre, with flat-arched windows in the canted sides to two storeys, the upper and lower windows divided by a metal spandrel; the bay is stepped back several times to the parapet; the rest of the tower detailed with vertical panels of green faience, two flagpoles bracketed on lions' heads, and stepping back to parapet; low central pediment. The wings have flat-arched entrances and windows to the ground floor in Seven Sisters Road and small flat-arched windows in Isledon Road; the upper floors have flat-arched windows, those to the first and second floors linked vertically in a single architrave with a metal spandrel between; cornice and parapet.

The interior is a Hispano-Moresque fantasy. Octagonal arcaded foyer with the bowed balconies of the upper foyer projecting into the two-storey centre with a tiled fountain under a painted dome. Octagonal columns to the arcade with fantastic brackets at first-floor level, which was originally the Tea Room Balcony. In the foyer and throughout the cinema are well-preserved doors with stencilled ornament on one side and nail-head decoration on the other. The passage to the auditorium has a decorative plaster ceiling with star-like lighting recesses and ornate plaster frames for posters. The upper foyer has modernistic metal railings to the balcony with chevron ornament; frieze of interlaced work, original ceiling lights with embossed roses, ornate plaster frames for posters and, towards the auditorium, a massive shallow many-foiled arch, the spandrels decorated in imitation of embossed leatherwork. The crush hall has bracketed eaves and a tiled roof running all round as if it were a Spanish courtyard. The auditorium: Four-centred proscenium arch with eight stages of imitation stepped brickwork, the spandrels filled with arabesques and coats of arms; to either side are bays, chamfered in plan, with round-arched entrances, decorated with chequerboard patterns and coats of arms; the stalls have an aisle running round behind an arcade of shallow ogival arches carried on chamfered antae with capitals bulging with rams' horns; the two bays to either side nearest the proscenium arch have a plaster frieze of rampant lions; projection box slung across the auditorium under the gallery. Above the proscenium arch and the canted bays and running back for the first four tiers of the gallery, is a detailed and romantic stage-set of a Spanish town; this extends along the side walls of the gallery in the form of a steeply raked arcade of barley-sugar columns and stepped parapet carrying urns, vases and exceedingly naturalistic foliage; at the rear of the gallery, flat-arched entrances with shouldered arches, and between them, an arcade of elliptical arches on squat columns supporting a frieze incorporating part of the lighting system. The ceiling, originally blue and powdered with electric lights as stars, was not visible at inspection for lack of light.

With seats for 4,000 people, the Finsbury Park Astoria was one of the largest cinemas in the world in 1930.

Listing NGR: TQ3122186515


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 15 Aug 2000
Reference: IOE01/00893/01
Rights: Copyright IoE J. Callon. Source Historic England Archive
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