Classic Chelsea

148-150 King's Road,
London, SW3 4UT

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Classic Cinemas (UK), London and Provincial Electric Theatres Ltd., Lou Morris

Architects: Felix Joubert

Styles: Art Nouveau

Previous Names: Chelsea Picture Playhouse, Electric Cinema Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Classic Chelsea

Locating the west London district of Chelsea. Opened in 1910 as the Chelsea Picture Playhouse, the architect was Felix Joubert and seating was provided for 394 on a single floor. In the early-1920’s it was known as the Electric Cinema Theatre and had this name set into the tiled façade.

By 1937 it had been taken over by Classic Cinemas Ltd. and became one of the first to be operated by this chain that specialised in repertory screenings of classic Hollywood films. It was re-named the Classic Cinema and by 1953 it was operated by Lou Morris, retaining the Classic name, but by 1958 it had been taken back by Classic Cinemas. The façade was reduced in height and given a ‘modern’ look which it retained until closing on 4th August 1973. A typical ‘Classic’ double bill programme of Edward G. Robinson starring in two films, “Little Ceasar” and “Bullets or Ballots” were the final films.

The original stage production of “Rocky Horror Show” starring Tim Curry was transferred from the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) to the Classic Cinema building for three months from August 1973. In December 1973, it went onto greater success at the slightly larger King’s Road Theatre along the road, playing there until 1979 when the production transferred to the West End at the Comedy Theatre, closing on 13th September 1980 after a total run of the production in the four theatres of 2,960 performances.

After the short run of “Rocky Horror Show” ended, the building was demolished. Today a branch of Boots the chemist’s shop and offices have been built on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Jason Mullen
Jason Mullen on February 15, 2006 at 10:22 am

I might not be here if it wasn’t for this building, my late Father Patrick Mullen was Assistant Manager and later manager in the early sixties and my mother a Drama Student worked as an usherette. They met at work and married soon after. It’s no wonder I have an intrest in cinemas!
This was quite a popular cinema in those days and my mother recalls many actors including Alec Guinness and would call in to watch films unnoticed by the public.

AdoraKiaOra on December 13, 2006 at 2:39 am

Isnt this the Classic cinema where The Rocky Horror Show played for awhile after premiering at the Royal Court up the road before it went to the West Ends Comedy Theatre??

AdoraKiaOra on December 13, 2006 at 5:31 am

Hey jason, thanks for that! I had a pretty good idea it was this one but as there are so many old cinemas in Chelsea i just wanted to make sure. I saw Rocky when it went to the West End but i know a few people who saw it at the Classic. They said it was amazing it was ever allowed to open cos the ceiling was comeing down, wallpaper falling on the audience- how very atmospheric for Rocky! The show lost all its raw fun when it went to the 800+ Comedy, but at least it had a good few years in the West End. Great to be in touch with you on this amazing site

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on February 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm

A vintage photograph of the Classic Chelsea in 1967 ‘Swinging London’:
View link

Claudia65 on August 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hi Jason,
I am looking for an Assistant Manager of the classic cinema Chelsea called Daniel. He worked there about 1965/66. The Manager at the time was called Peter Lucas. He is related to my husband. Any ideas? Thanks Claudia

spencerphobbs on September 21, 2014 at 5:32 am

Just a couple of historical corrections to the information on this listing, as I think the contributor, or rather the original source from which the information has simply been copied/recycled, has confused the early details of the building with those of the other cinema building in Chelsea that also later became a Classic following the circuits takeover of the Essoldo chain. I can, however, confirm that this cinema did not open in 1910, and its architect was not Felix Joubert referred to. Neither was its original name the “Chelsea Picture Playhouse” as stated (it did however have a couple of additional names not mentioned here).

Sid_Cole on July 31, 2016 at 7:55 am

I lived in Paultons Square in 1973 (1962-1984) The last night showing was The Great Escape to a packed house. Then the R.H. moved in for what was to be one month Still on the Road. From the Classic it moved to the Elsoldo , Church St x Kings Road for years and years.

Sid_Cole on July 31, 2016 at 7:58 am

Ken Roe’s photo 1967 also shows the Peasantry Arches a great haunt Now a Pizza place -very tame.

MetropolitanAnthony on March 28, 2017 at 10:23 am

In December 1979 I went to the Rocky Horror Show ( stage production). I feel sure that it was performed at the Chelsea Hippodrome not the Classic . Later the Hippodrome closed and became the Habitat on Kings Road.

Jason Mullen
Jason Mullen on January 24, 2018 at 4:07 am

The old Chelsea Classic received the first transfer of Rocky Horror from The Royal Court Upstairs in Sloane Sq. It then moved down the road to what is now Cineworld Chelsea (known briefly as The Kings Road Theatre before bing divided as a cinema) then ending its run at the Comedy Theatre, in Panton Street off Leicester Sq in around 1980-81 (now the Harold Pinter) The former Odeon built in 1930’s now Habitat and Curzon Chelsea never staged it. The only other theatre on Kings Road The Chelsea Palace was a TV studio for Granada TV but didn’t stage the show at anytime. That is now redeveloped as shops, currently the Metro Bank.

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