Mecca Bingo Club
Also Known As: Gaumont Cinema, BISHOPSFORD ROAD, Sutton
Former Gaumont cinema, built in 1936-7 for the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. Architect: Harry Weston of Epsom and London, with interiors by Eugene Mollo and Michael Egan of London. Brick, cladding steel frame, the upper facade clad in Binfield hand-made sand-faced russet bricks, and with painted artificial stone features. Brick return walls, roof not seen. Large double-height auditorium with balcony and stage, the latter with shallow fly-tower.
EXTERIOR: Monumental and symmetrical moderne facade. Terrazzo ground floor treated as plinth to composition now painted over. Four sets of entrance doors, with canopy above. Tall triple-light first floor windows, divided by painted pilasters. This configuration is continued for the upper storey but with the windows flanking the central feature and bullnosed corners to facade. The semi-glazed doors to the cafe survive behind late twentieth-century protective panels.
INTERIOR: Double-height auditorium dominated by five huge fibrous plaster fluted coves, originally for indirect light. These are inclined towards the proscenium and extend across the ceiling and down to slanting troughs, also of fibrous plaster, set in the side walls. The coves flanking the proscenium are cut short at the top to allow for ventilation grilles (now blocked). Another panel of ventilation grilles is built into the fluted cove over the stage. The vertical sides of the proscenium are in the form of bull-nosed tapering pilasters. The curving balcony front is inclined backwards. The dado survives on the side walls near the proscenium. Raised central section of the ceiling above the rear balcony to allow for the projection throw. The rear wall here retains a surface of vertical battens and fibrous acoustic covering, together with the projection ports'. Two vomitory entrances to the balcony entered by way of dog-leg passages. Balcony soffit with eight lighting saucer domes equipped with chromium and glass uplighters. Balcony foyer with fluted horizontal lighting cove. In the former cafe, there is moderne fibrous plaster decoration of saucer domes and coving surviving above a false ceiling. Original doors to the cafe at first floor level.
ANALYSIS: The Gaumont, Rose Hill was built to serve the London County Council's new St Helier estate, and forms a strong group with the adjoining flats and shops by Carl Rudolph Jelinek (1939-40). Internally it is a particularly dramatic and now rare example of a moderne style cinema interior, designed as an architecture based on hidden lighting, and executed in the fibrous plaster popular at the time.
`Another Large Suburban Kinema for Gaumont-British', in Ideal Kinema, 17 June 1937, pp.19, 22
Charlotte Benton, A Different World: Emigre Architects in Britain 1928-1958, London, RIBA, 1995, p.172
Allen Eyles, Gaumont British Cinemas, London, Cinema Theatre Association, 1996, pp.85-7, 216
Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain, London, Lund Humphries, 1996, pp.89, 139
Allen Eyles, `Meeting Michael Egan', in Picture House, no. 23, summer 1998, Cinema Theatre Association, pp.30-1