Victoria Station Cartoon Cinema

Buckingham Palace Road,
London, SW1 W0

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Sagitarius23 on April 28, 2022 at 6:04 am

I worked here for about 2 years as assistant manager in the early 1970s. Mrs Evans was the manager and a great boss and the 2 long time and elderly doormen/ushers were Walter and John. John was Irish and had a striking resemblance to Stan Laurel! Bridget, also Irish was the cashier in the kiosk/box-office at the ground floor entrance that opened onto Buckingham Palace Road where the Queen’s Guard would march past every day for the changing of the Guard at the Palace. There were no public toilets in the cinema but the staff had one toilet off a store room accessed half way up the stairs. We had another store room at the rear side of platform 16 below. Access to the projection box was via a spiral staircase accessed from the tiny office off the cinema foyer. There was another very small kiosk on the 1st floor just near the entrance to the auditorium and a poker machine in the corner which only took 10p coins. We opened at 10am with a continuous programme of cartoons, travelogues, “Look At Life” mini documentaries, 1950s Pete Smith or Laurel & Hardy comedy short and a 1930s serial. The last session was at 9pm finishing at 10pm with national anthem God Save The Queen. Saturday and Sunday afternoons were the busiest times. People would come every week just to see the next episode of the Flash Gordon or Tarzan serials. One of my jobs at the end of the evening was to walk along each aisle in the auditorium and check there were no burning cigarette butts left in the ashtrays or on the floor.

IanM on September 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I remember working there as Assistant Manager in the late 1960s. The hours were long and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I used to run up and down all those stairs from the cash desk to the auditorium! Classic Cinemas, in their wisdom, decided we should screen a late night full length feature film on Saturday nights. This attracted a motley crew of patrons and occasionally a fight would break out. What a nightmare.

davidcoppock on February 11, 2017 at 4:47 am

“Did they only show cartoons there?”

PeabodyKid on February 9, 2017 at 6:06 am

I stumbled across this great website while reminiscing. I went on occasion to the Cartoon Cinema in the mid to late 70s with a troop of kids from the Peabody Estate on Vauxhall Bridge Road. A real treat. Cartoons and old black and white movies were shown on a loop, and we would watch the, through at least twice around. Vividly recall Rocket Man, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Superman, and being fascinated by what we would now call terrible ‘production values’. Cheetah the chimp was an actor in a very bad suit. If I remember correctly, Superman had the physique of a bus conductor and smoked fags. Us kids thought the films ridiculous – but were mesmerised none the less. We LOVED the cartoons.

iankingdon1980 on February 7, 2017 at 10:59 am

Lunaluna please get in contact .. I’m Jim carters nephew and I knew David odd very well .. he was a great guy and a brilliant projectionist he got me into working at riverside studios Hammersmith years ago .. he lived near Oxford with a little model railway around his tree outside ..I’ve been wondering what happened to David and I knew he came from Putney as his mum lived there .. thanks

sherlock on May 21, 2015 at 8:18 am

very sad to hear the news about dave oddy,he came to my house in the projectors80s after the news theater closed at victoria station,i bought the kalee projectors and had them in my home cinema for some time,dont know what i did with that old nitrate movietone news,shown on the last night at victoria,it was quite a job getting those projectors down from the roof! ray

Mags on March 28, 2015 at 8:26 am

Was this the little News and Cartoon cinema with an entrance just outside Victoria Station? If so my mother used to take me when I was a baby along with her friend Molly and they used as a drinking vessel the head my little rubber doll. I loved the cartoons, Charlie Chaplin shorts and all the newsreels of WW2 which had ended a couple of years earlier.

lunaluna on February 18, 2015 at 5:22 pm

I’m sad to pass on the news that David Oddy passed away on Jan 12, 2015 in Oxford at age 74. His cinema career spanned almost five decades, starting in the late 1950’s. He was chief projectionist at several major cinemas in the West End of London, including the Victoria Station Cartoon Cinema. The BBC interviewed David on the sad day when it closed in 1981. He also worked at several other greater London cinemas, including an art house in Richmond.

David was well known and respected among his fellow projectionists. In his time most of the West End cinema projectionists knew one another as they frequented the same pubs and it was common practice to move employment from cinema to cinema. David was one of the most colorful of the lot with his quick mind, sense of humor, impeccable dress, and his love of gadgets and anything mechanical. I’m sure he and his buddy Jim Carter will both be remembered fondly as long as any of that group is still around.

David spent the last decade of his career in the AV department of the Imperial War Museum. There he had the opportunity to handle and show rare archival footage and to meet many dignitaries at exclusive screenings. He retired to Oxfordshire upon retirement.

In the days before digital filming,the projection booth was quite an engineering project. Dave was a self taught engineer who built several booths from the ground up. Long before digital controllers he devised mechanical contraptions to automatically open and close the curtains in front of the screen, to raise and lower the house music volume and to dim and raise the house lights.

The skills that David took pride in and that brought a fabulous entertainment experience to so many people in the pre-digital era are now almost entirely lost. He was an exceptionally inquisitive creative person and a loyal friend. He’ll be missed.

Billy on November 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

Apparently this was the last cartoon cinema left in the UK when it closed with ‘The Hound that Thought He was a Raccoon’ on August 27th, 1981. I’d been told by my father about them but I never knew how long they lasted.

sherlock on July 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

hi.there this is ray aguilar,i was there on the closing night,even lent the chief dave oddy a reel of old nitrate newsreel to show,happy memories,anyone remember th waterloo station news theatre.ray

RobertR on October 31, 2010 at 10:58 am

Its amazing this could operate with a film policy as it did until 1981.

Chriff on September 25, 2008 at 7:05 am

This was my first post as a trainee cinema manager with Classic Cinemas in 1973. A Mrs Evans, then in her 70s was the manageress and the doorman, Walter, was in his 80s. The programme – cartoons, Movietone News, serial – ran round-the-clock from 11.00 am for about an hour with adverts. Tickets were bought at a street level kiosk on the walk through from Buckingham Palace Road into the station, which usually clocked up more in sweet and tobacco sales. There were regular complaints from women on their own about the attentions of other patrons – but mostly well after the event!

kencmcintyre on August 1, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Victoria Station was the name of a chain of bad restaurants in LA about twenty years ago. Now I get the connection.

stevecoldrick on January 15, 2007 at 5:51 am

It wasn’t a dream!
I have been reminiscing about my late father and some of the places
he used to take me as a kid. I was sure i once went to a cinema on Victoria Station and watched some Tom & Jerry cartoons.
Then again it was some 30 odd years ago and i wasn’t sure whether i had imagined the whole thing. So sad its not there anymore as i would have loved to repeat the experience with my kids. Still, many thanks for confirming the memory, I’ll now continue my 37 yr old daydream!

exciterlamp on May 25, 2006 at 5:49 am

I visited this cinema on its last day, as I knew the projectionist Ray Aguillar. It was a very sad occasionand some of the staff were near to tears.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 19, 2005 at 8:25 pm

Some other newsreel and short subject cinemas located in train stations:

Grand Central Theatre, New York
South Station Theatre, Boston
Newsreel Theatre, Cincinnati

RHScottSpencer on February 10, 2005 at 8:02 am

I worked in the cinema and one owned by the same company in Oxford Street London on and off as a relief projectionist. It was some where warm to sit while waiting for a train. Most people that use it had children with them so the 2 hour programme of newsreels, cartoon shorts and serials worked well. In the end like the one in Oxford Street it was worth more closed than open.
R H Scott-Spencer.