5 Hill Street,
Richmond upon Thames,
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Architects: Sidney J. Davis
Previous Names: New Royalty Kinema, Royalty Kinema
Located in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, to the west of todays' Greater London. The New Royalty Kinema opened on 24th December 1914. It was operated by the Joseph Mears Theatres Ltd. chain, and the frontage and foyer of the building was originally an 18th century Georgian town house, with the cinema auditorium built at the rear. The original wood panelling and stars of the town house were retained, as was an original fireplace, which heated the foyer on cold winter nights.
At the rear of the foyer, a short flight of steps on the left led down to a tea lounge, while a flight of steps to the right led to the small circle. Seating in the cinema was provided for 900 in the stalls and 120 in the circle. The decoration was carried out in a French Classical style. There was an illuminated dome in the centre of the ceiling towards the front of the auditorium, and a sliding roof over the circle seating area, which was used on hot summer days.
In 1922 a Hill Norman & Beard organ was installed, which was opened by noted organist G.T. Pattman. From 10th June 1929 it was re-named Royalty Kinema. Closed in October 1940, due to war-time conditions, it re-opened in May 1942.
The Royalty Kinema was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain from 3rd January 1944. As they merged with the Gaumont British Theatres chain and became part of the Rank Organisation, the name was changed to Gaumont from 26th November 1949. (The Odeon name was taken by the Richmond Kinema, just along the street, and it still operates as such in 2009). In 1950, the tea longe was closed and the organ was removed from the building.
The Georgian style frontage was designated a Listed building by the Department of Enviroment. The Gaumont was closed by the Rank Organisation on 25th October 1980, with Michael Caine in “Dressed to Kill”. The auditorium was demolished in 1983 and due to a covenant on the site, stating that ‘cinema use must be retained’, the Filmhouse was built on part of the site (this continues in 2009 as the 150-seat, Curzon Richmond on Water Lane). The Listed 18th Century facade and former foyer were retained and are now in use as offices and a restaurant.
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