Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Unexpected Alphabet No 19

After aquaplaning down the Great North Road to London yesterday morning, through the worst rain I've experienced whilst driving, the clouds later scudded away rapidly to reveal this in Hornchurch. Opened as the Towers cinema in August 1935, the first double bill was The Phantom Light and Vagabond Lady. The faience-clad front elevation was designed by Kemp & Tasker, the interiors by Clark & Fenn that included a cafe and ballroom. It still seats 1,800, and was taken over by the Odeon chain in 1943 who stuck their neon sign over these architectural letters for a re-opening in 1950. The last film to be shown here was the James Bond movie Live and Let Die in 1973. And so I suppose we have to thank Mecca Bingo for revealing the sign once again. Clickety-Click.

23 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

An amazing lump of a place, but it works - in this dramatic light anyway. Kemp and Tasker seem to have done quite a few cinemas around Essex and the edges of London. It would obviously worth watching out for more.

Sue said...

The light is quite extraordinary. Makes it look like a model, or 20th-Century-Fox-esque!

Peter Ashley said...

Phil: The stage lighting certainly helped, making it a beacon of interest in an otherwise very drab road.

Sue: It does bring to mind
20th Century Fox's gargantuan letters. That epic logo was once much copied- the films Ben Hur and Witchfinder General (particularly irrelevant)come to mind, and Peter Blake's cover for the 1967 Design & Art Direction Annual.

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