Amhurst Hall

42 Kingsland High Street,
London, E8 2JP

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: Frank Matcham

Firms: Frank Matcham & Company

Previous Names: Amherst Hall

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Amhurst Hall

Located in the east London inner-city district of Dalston. The Amherst Hall was located on the east side of Kingsland High Street at the north corner with Abbot Street, and entranced down a narrow passage named Stanborough Passage. It was purpose built as a cinema by Frederick William Purcell, who operated it from its opening on 26th December 1908 until at least 1915. Designed as a 707-seat cinema by noted theatre architect Frank Matcham, this was one of only a few purpose-built cinemas he designed. F.W. Purcell had built and operated the Frank Matcham designed Alexandra Theatre in nearby Stoke Newington, and also the Matcham designed Marlborough Theatre, Holloway.

It was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system in around 1930 and was operated by the London & Southern Super Cinemas Ltd. chain, and by 1934 it was operated by Amhurst Pictures Ltd., the spelling of the cinema name being changed to Amhurst. By 1937 the Amhurst Hall was operated by Watford Amusements and had a seating capacity of 903.

The Amhurst Hall was closed in September 1940 a victim of World War II conditions when is sustained bomb damage during a German air raid. It never re-opened and received further bomb damage in November 1940. It was used for a while as a storage facility for storing furniture from bombed out homes. In 1942 it was listed as being vacant and unused and in 1951, it was in use as a theatrical store. Demolished in the late-1960’s to build a new Woolworth’s store, in 2009, a Macdonald’s Restaurant and Currys electrical store operate on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

SpurredoninDublin on September 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I was amazed to find this Cinema. I used to pass by it most days as a child in the 1950’s by which time it was closed, and I have only discovered it’s name and full history today. It appears on a 1953 map as “Amherst Hall”, and it was only when I remembered that many of the places with the Amherst name on it were spelled with “Amhurst” that I found this on Google.

Though it had been closed long before I was born, the building was easily recognisable as having been a cinema. I recall there being a row of 2 or three double doors and you could see the push bar devices through the glass.

There was another similar building in another alleyway about half a mile north, which I believe might have been in Millers Terrace. Does anyone have info on that please?

Woody_London on February 14, 2018 at 2:20 pm

doing a bit of detective work, it seems that the buildings were renumbered in the 60’s and that the building that housed Fairyland is still standing, and the space behind it that housed the Amhurst Hall is part of the Kingsland shopping centre, and the cinema actually joined onto the Woolworths building sharing a odd shaped wall, and so may have survived longer – possibly into the 80’s or 90’s ?? map attached showing this and a page from the Dalston Guide from 1910 listing the businesses

SpurredoninDublin on February 14, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Thanks for that. I am not quite sure if I understood you, but my recollection of the area which dates back to the 1950s is that based on the above diagram, Woolworths would have been a treble fronted shop from 62-58 Kingsland High St. If you look at the map, you will see a notation “20 Ridley Rd, right of way” and “20 High St Kingsland right of way”. The map doesn’t make it clear but this is an alleyway that connects Kingsland High St and Ridley Rd, (Stanborough PL)hence the right of way. If Woolworths and Amherst Hall were joined on to each other, it would have had a road running through the middle. That is assuming that Woolworths was there in the 1940’s. It was certainly there in the 50’s.

My interest was that I had passed the Amherst Hall probably a thousand times as a child, and I was aware of the rich history that Hackney had for Cinemas. I can recall there being 17 and though I was aware that this building had been a cinema, it was “before my time”, and in recent years, I wondered what the story was behind this former cinema.

I’ve just looked at the uploads you have provided, and notice that there was a house painting business at 42 HSK owned by Stanborough and Son. Another little bit of history explained. Thank you very much and many thanks for the uploads. They have added context. I am a lover of history, and history without context is not real history to me.

Best wishes.

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