Regeneration: EMD Cinema, Walthamstow

Outside Granada Mirth

Alert

In 2019, Waltham Forest Council bought the former EMD cinema on Hoe Street for £2.8 million. In an innovative partnership with Soho Theatre, the EMD cinema will be transformed into a 1,000 (approx.) seat local theatre with a national profile.

Work has now begun to restore the building back to its former glory, boosting the local night time economy and providing jobs during the restoration and into the future once it opens to the public.

The proposed refurbishment plans respect the heritage and history of the building, maintaining the appearance, as well as the design and character of the interior and to ensure it keeps its historical value.

The Council purchased the site with sitting tenants operating the Victoria Pub and Mirth, Marvel, and Maud. Mirth made the decision to close in early January 2020. The Council thanks them for bringing joy to the residents of Waltham Forest, and contributing significantly to the cultural offer of the borough over the last few years, and wishes them well with future endeavours.

The Victoria Pub will continue to operate until summer 2020, when the full refurbishment of the entire building will begin. The building is currently in very poor condition and requires significant investment to keep it safe and make it accessible. Modernisation is required now to ensure it is sustainable as a fit for purpose venue for the future. In order to comply with the Listed Building status, the Hoe Street Frontage is to be restored and this too requires significant alterations to the part of the building in which the Victoria Pub is located. The existing Victoria Pub and Welcome to the Forest Bar will be developed as commercial premises for uses that complement the theatre.

What happens when?

  • The site was made safe for contractors to begin works in May 2019
  • Pre-planning consultations will take place in January 2020
  • Main refurbishment will start in the summer of 2020
  • Work is expected to finish in later winter 2021 to early 2022

Stay informed

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Share your memories!

We would love to hear your memories of the much-loved building! Did you watch bands like The Beatles and The Who at the Granada? Were you a regular at Saturday Morning pictures or did you go to the EMD as a child? 

Email us your memories and pictures

We'll aim to include as many as possible in an official archive of the Grade II* listed community building as it enters its next exciting phase.

Background and History Click to get info

Mirth, Marvel and Maud (previously known as Granada Cinema, Walthamstow EMD, MGM Cinema and ABC Cinema) is a Grade II* listed building housing a pub, cinema and cultural centre in Walthamstow, London. The pub will remain open until works begin in 2020.

The building is famous for having been frequented by Alfred Hitchcock and for being built on a site where films were shown as early as 1896.

In 1930 Granada PLC built a 2,697 seat cinema, opened as The Granada. The building featured exteriors by Cecil Masey and interior decorations by Theodore Komisarjevsky.

Often used as a concert venue, the venue held a concert by the Beatles on May 24 1963. Other famous musical acts to have performed there include Dusty Springfield, The Who, The Duke Ellington Band, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, John Coltrane, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and many more!

Between 1989 and 2000, the cinema changed ownership several times, Cannon Cinemas, Virgin and ABC, before being purchased by Odeon. Less than a year after the Odeon took over, the cinema was sold to textile millionaire Mohan Sharma and renamed the EMD Cinema supposedly from the initials of his three daughters.

The cinema was closed in Aug 2002 and bought by the Brazil-based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God with plans to turn it into a church. A campaign by local residents led to 12 years of legal wrangling over the cinema’s future.

At the time of its closure as a cinema in December 2003, it was the only cinema to have an original working Christie Organ still in place at the cinema where it was originally installed. 

Since 2016, the building has been home to the Antic Pub Mirth, Marvel & Maud.

About Soho Theatre Click to get info

Soho Theatre are a charity and social enterprise. They produce and co-produce new plays, work with associate artists and present the best new emerging theatre companies. The Walthamstow Granada will be their second venue, joining Dean Street in their buzzing London locations.

Their vision for the Walthamstow Granada reimagines cine-variety for the 21st Century. As a local theatre with a national profile, it will be rooted in its community but able attract audiences and press attention from across London and the UK.

The new programme will be a high-quality cultural offer in the borough, and a further driver for local economy. It will include

  • A selection of the best live comedy, music and theatre, from all over the country
  • One-off film events, and streaming of major cultural and sporting events
  • A buzzing bar and foyer where artists, audiences and locals can meet, mingle and mix together
  • A restaurant catering for the local community and visiting audiences

Check out Soho Theatre’s website to get a taster of their current programme.

Further Information Click to get info

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, or if you’d like to contact the team