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Theatres in Shepherd's Bush, London

The Shepherd's Bush Empire - The Pavilion Theatre / Gaumont Cinema / Odeon 1 - Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre / Essoldo / Odeon 2

A Google StreetView image showing the three Theatres built side by side on Shepherd's Bush Green, the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Pykes Cinematograph Theatre and the Pavilion - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView image showing the three Theatres built side by side on Shepherd's Bush Green, the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Pykes Cinematograph Theatre and the Pavilion - Click to Interact.

 

The Shepherd's Bush Empire, Shepherd’s Bush Green, London

Photograph of the Shepherds Bush Empire in its heyday with Max Miller on the Bill. - Courtesy Peter Charlton

Above - Photograph of the Shepherd's Bush Empire in its heyday with Max Miller on the Bill.

 

Programme for 'Shuffle Along' at the Shepherds Bush Empire, in association with the London Coliseum, on Monday June the 25th 1923.The Shepherd's Bush Empire was designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham and built for Oswald Stoll, opening on the 17th of August 1903 with the Fred Karno Troupe, (For family ties with Fred Karno see Harry Robert Lloyd.

The auditorium of the Shepherds Bush Empire in 1923.The Theatre, with a capacity of 2,332, housed Music Hall and Variety for many years but in 1953 it was bought by the BBC and converted to a TV Studio/Theatre.

Left - The auditorium of the Shepherd's Bush Empire in 1923.

Right - Programme for 'Shuffle Along' at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, in association with the London Coliseum, on Monday June the 25th 1923.

In 1995 the Theatre was furthur converted, with some architectural restoration, into a music Venue and continues as such to this day.

 

Details of a programme for 'Shuffle Along' at the Shepherds Bush Empire, in association with the London Coliseum, on Monday June the 25th 1923.

Above - Details of a programme for 'Shuffle Along' at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, in association with the London Coliseum, on Monday June the 25th 1923.

 

An original postcard showing the Shepherds Bush Empire in its early years.The Shepherds Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.Over the course of its more than one hundred years in existence, since the Theatre opened on the 17th of August 1903 to the present day, the external facade of the Shepherd's Bush Empire has changed very little, as can be seen in the two images here.

There has however been a small extension built above the centre block and the entrance canopy has been modernised for the Theatre's use as a concert venue (See image below.)

Left - An original postcard showing the Shepherd's Bush Empire in its early years.

Right - The Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.

You may like to visit the Shepherd's Bush Empire's own website here...

 

Some images and programmes for the Shepherd's Bush Empire

The Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins.

Above - The Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins.

The modernised canopy of the Shepherds Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.

Above - The modernised canopy of the Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.

A photograph of an unusual feature in the auditorium of the Shepherd's Bush Empire, somewhat reminiscent of the stage boxes at the London Coliseum - Courtesy Tom Healey.

Above - A photograph of an unusual feature in the auditorium of the Shepherd's Bush Empire, somewhat reminiscent of the stage boxes at the London Coliseum - Courtesy Tom Healey.

 

The Shepherds Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.

Above - The Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2006 - Courtesy Positive Design Works.

The auditorium of the Shepherds Bush Empire in 1999 - Courtesy Ted Bottle

Above - The auditorium of the Shepherd's Bush Empire in 1999 - Courtesy Ted Bottle

 

Programme for Variety show at the Shepherds Bush Empire May 30th 1949 Programme for Variety show at the Shepherds Bush Empire Nov 24th 1952

Above Left - Programme for Variety show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire May 30th 1949
Above Right - Programme for Variety show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire Nov 24th 1952

 

Programme details for Variety show at the Shepherds Bush Empire May 30th 1949

Above - Programme details for Variety show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire May 30th 1949

 

Programme details for Variety show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire Nov 24th 1952.

Above - Programme details for Variety show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire Nov 24th 1952.

 

The Pavilion Theatre, 58 Shepherd's Bush Green, London

Later - The Gaumont Cinema / Odeon 1 Cinema

The Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The side elevation of the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012, also showing the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre next door - Courtesy Charles S. P. JenkinsThe Shepherd's Bush Pavilion, which was situated just down the road from the Empire, was designed by the well known architect Frank T. Verity and built for Israel Davis as a Cinema with stage facilities. The Theatre opened on the 16th of August 1923 with a showing of the film 'Within the Law' and a live Ballet production on the Theatre's stage with Anton Dolin and Company.

The Theatre had a large auditorium, designed in the Italian Renaissance style, and capable of seating well over 2,000 people in its two levels, stalls and one balcony, and was equipped with a stage 70 foot wide by 20 foot deep. There were also 4 dressing room for its artistes and the Theatre was equipped with a Compton 4Manual/17Rank Organ.

Right - The side elevation of the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012, also showing the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre next door - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins.

The main entrance of the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. JenkinsThe imposing brick frontage of the Pavilion won an R.I.B.A. London Street Architecture Award for 'Best London Facade' when the Theatre opened in 1923.

In July 1944 the Pavilion was seriously damaged by a flying bomb and the Theatre had to close, not reopening again for another decade. The restoration of the Theatre was eventually carried out by Samuel Beverley, who was Verity's former business partner, and included restoration of the exterior of the building and a complete rebuilding of the interior in a more modern style with a lower seating capacity. The Theatre reopened as the Gaumont Cinema on the 25th of July 1955.

Left - The main entrance of the Shepherd's Bush Pavilion in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins.

The Theatre was again reconstructed in 1969 when Odeon, who had taken over the building in 1962, closed the building and carried out extensive reconstruction of the interior. This included extending the balcony forward to the proscenium so creating an 815 seat cinema upstairs, and converting the former stalls area into a Top Rank Bingo Club. The foyers were also altered at this time and an escalator was installed so that patrons could easily reach the cinema level. The Cinema was renamed on its opening, on the 7th of March 1970, as Odeon 1, and the former Pyke's Cinema, next door, was rebadged Odeon 2.

The Cinema was closed altogether in October 1981 and then the building was just used for Bingo downstairs until that too closed in 2001. Plans to restore the building later that year, and reopen the cinema, unfortunately never happened and the 2008 plans to convert it into an hotel also fell through. The cinema was however converted into a concert and events venue which remained until 2011 when plans were finally approved to convert the building into an hotel.

Demolition of the interior began in April 2012, the facade is to be retained.

Much of this information on the Pavilion Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website. Photographs were kindly sent in by Charles S. P. Jenkins.

 

Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre, 57A Shepherd's Bush Green,
London

Later - New Palladium Cinema / The Essoldo Cinema / Classic / Odeon 2 / Walkabout

The former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre on Shepherd's Bush Green in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre on Shepherd's Bush Green in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins - The former Pavilion Theatre can be seen to the right of this photograph.

Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre, was situated on Shepherd's Bush Green, sandwiched in-between the earlier Shepherd's Bush Empire and the later Pavilion Theatre. The Cinema opened on the 3rd of March 1910 with a seating capacity of 763 people, and was the 6th Cinema in the Pyke Cinema Circuit to be built, altogether there would be 16 Cinemas in the chain by 1911.

The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The side elevation of the former Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre in 2012 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The Cinema was reconstructed in 1923 by the architect John Stanley Beard and reopened in November that year as the New Palladium Cinema, however the 'New' was dropped from the name in 1946. In 1955 the Cinema was renamed Essoldo.

In 1968 the Cinema was closed and modernised but a fire in the building just before it was to reopen delayed that a little, when it did reopen it had a lower seating capacity than its original, of 500 people.

In March 1970 the Cinema was rebadged Odeon 2 when the former Pavilion Theatre, next door, had a cinema constructed in its former balcony area and named Odeon 1.

The Cinema closed in October 1981 and remained derelict until it was finally converted into a public house for the Australian Walkabout Chain, which it remains to this day. As can be seen from the photographs above most of the original signage for the Theatre remains on the side elevation of the building today and reads: 'Cinematograph Theatre, Continuous Performances, Seats 1/-6d & 3d'.

Much of this information on the Pyke's Cinematograph Theatre was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website. Photographs were kindly sent in by Charles S. P. Jenkins.