EMD (Granada) Walthamstow
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The EMD (Granada) cinema on Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was opened on 15 September 1930. There has been an arts venue on the site for over 100 Years. The original building opened in May 1887 as a meetings and performing arts venue. The (original) cinema was one of the first venues to screen a film in the year of film's birth, 1896. It was made into the area's first full-time cinema in 1906.
In 1930 the Victoria Hall was purchased by Granada Theatres who decided to reinvent the site as a modern 'Super Cinema'. The new cinema (English Heritage Grade II listed) had 2,697 seats and was opened as the Granada Cinema, with flamboyant interior decorations by the Russian stage designer Theodore Komisarjevsky, on 15 September 1930. The EMD Cinema is the only British venue to have an original Christie theatre organ in situ.
The cinema was then refurbished in the 1970s to suit the tastes of the time, but retained the architectural features for which it became famous. The cinema was split up into three cinemas (one before) putting a partition under the circle and halving it, making two smaller cinemas and a large theatre for blockbusters.
In 2003 the cinema was closed and bought by a controversial evangelical church. The building was subsequently empty as the church repeatedly failed to gain planning permission to change use of the venue.
A sustained cross-community campaign was fought for the building to be reopened for the purpose it was originally built. A final attempt by the church group to convert the Grade II listed building was rejected by Local Government and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
In June 2014, Waltham Forest Council approved funds for the purchase of the building from the church with the aim of working with the independent Soho Theatre Company and the Waltham Forest Cinema Trust (WFCT) to turn the site into a mixed entertainment venue and cinema.
Success and reopening
In November 2014, in advance of facing a compulsory purchase order and with the building now in considerable disrepair, the church finally conceded to local pressure sold the building to pub company Antic. Soho Theatre & WFCT have held an initial meeting with the new owners and it is widely expected that the venue will return to use as a community entertainment venue and performance space.
- http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/11343106.Funding_approved_for_EMD_cinema_purchase Waltham Forest Guardian (16 July 2014) "Decision by Waltham Forest Council hailed as a major step towards returning the historic venue to the community"