Classic Praed Street

5 Praed Street,
London, W2 1NJ

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Classic Cinemas (UK)

Styles: Moorish

Previous Names: Electric Theatre, Imperial Cinema, Gaiety Cinema, New Gaiety Cinema, World's News Theatre

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Classic Praed Street

The Electric Theatre opened in 1910 in a converted chapel, the facade was given a striking look that had three large domes on top which were illuminated at night by strings of electric light bulbs. There was no foyer and entrance was through doors located on each side of a central outside paybox. Seating in the auditorium was on one level and the screen was mounted high up on the end wall due to quite a steep sloping rake in the floor.

In 1911 it was re-named the Imperial Cinema, but in 1912 reverted back to the name Electric Theatre. In 1922 it was known as the Gaiety Cinema and in 1926 it changed ownership and the facade was modernised with the removal of all oranamentation(including the three domes) and it was re-named New Gaiety cinema. It had a small resident orchestra to accompany the silent films.

In 1930 it became the World’s News Theatre screening newsreels and topical short subjects. It was acquired by Classic Cinemas in 1941 and began screening cartoon films to accompany the newreels. In 1957 it was re-named Classic Cinema and began screening double bills of ‘classic’ movies but during later years it went over to soft core ‘porn’ films. It closed on 17th July 1986 with the triple bill programme; “Sex Hunters Erotics”, “Lesbos Sex”, and “Virgin Students”.

The building remained unused until 1989 when it was demolished and an office block was built on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

JFM on January 10, 2007 at 2:54 am

As a young assistant manager in the 80’s with Classic cinemas, i got to work relief shifts at a lot of these small, grotty little cinemas they had at the time.

To be honest, it was money for old rope – they didn’t take much managing, you could just open the place up, give the cashiers their floats and spend the rest of the day reading a book until closing time.

Odd place this one, very small, just a little paybox on the front, a couple of toilets (it was always best to use the ladies, as no one ever used them and they were much cleaner…), and a small auditorium with a noisy and creaky wooden floor.

The managers office was underneath the screen – it made it very interesting when you were on the phone to friends, and they wondered what the moaning and groaning was…:)

Ian on December 26, 2007 at 8:14 am

A picture taken just after closure can be found here :–

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smoothie on February 14, 2010 at 6:20 am

I think that photo is more likley to be 1966/67, Ken. “Southwest to Sonora” wasn’t released until October 27,1966 at the Leicester Square Theatre. Maybe my dates are mixed up though!

Ali Ismail
Ali Ismail on July 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I worked as a relief manager at this cinema under ‘Lucky Perera.’ It showed soft porn such as Emmanuelle in Tokyo. This was in 1979-1980.

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