Dilapidated Walthamstow cinema set for £25million restoration

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These pictures show what is left of a cinema that was once the haunt of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock and a stage for world-famous acts like the Beatles.

The former EMD cinema in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, is now pockmarked by water damage and pigeon droppings, with peeling paint and ripped up seats a shadow of its once glamorous interior.

It is set to be restored to a 1,000 capacity theatre by Waltham Forest Council – but recent work revealed the extent of the damage to the Art Deco building.

In January, Waltham Forest Council approved a budget of £25 million, £5 million more than they had originally planned to spend.

Construction costs rose after a survey carried out in spring last year uncovered asbestos, leaks and corrosion to concealed steelwork.

A report presented to the council’s cabinet noted that some risks “are yet to materialise” and the level of repairs needed for a “90-year-old semi-disused historic building” are unknown.

A contingency allowance of £2,893,000 has been set aside in case of other possible problems, such as party wall and boundary issues, discovery of further asbestos and the impact of Brexit.

The building’s story so far

The Granada opened in 1930 and was the second purpose-built picture house of its kind to open, after the Granada Dover.

It was frequented by Alfred Hitchcock, who was born in Leytonstone.

In the 1960s it doubled as a live music venue, hosting The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Dusty Springfield, The Who and Cilla Black.

The cinema changed hands several times and was renamed the EMD cinema, before eventually closing its doors in 2003.

It was then purchased by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which hoped to convert it into a place of worship but was repeatedly refused planning permission by the council.

The church appealed to the Government to overturn the council’s decision but was rejected by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which said the plans did not represent “the optimum viable use for the building.”

The premises was left empty for a number of years during the application process before the church gave up and sold to pub chain Antic in 2014, which refurbished and reopened it as bar and venue Mirth, Marvel and Maud.

The council bought it from Antic in May last year, a few months after it received the lowest possible hygiene score after an inspection in February.

It is hoped the new venue, which will be run by Soho Theatre, will add £34 million to £52 million in growth to the local economy over the next decade.

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Buddy Holly were just some of the acts to perform here

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter

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