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The Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Stepney, East London

Formerly - The Troxy Cinema / London Opera Centre / Top Rank Bingo Club / Mecca Bingo

The Troxy, Commercial Road, London at night, in August 2018.

Above - The Troxy, Commercial Road, London at night, in August 2018.

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An Art Deco Light Fitting at the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtey Charles Jenkins.The Troxy is situated on the Commercial Road in Stepney, East London and when it first opened on the 11th of September 1933 with a showing of the recently released films 'King Kong' and 'The Mind Reader' it was one of the Country's largest Cinemas ever to be built, seating 3,520 people. The Cinema was designed in the Art Deco Style for Hyams and Gale by the well known Theatre and Cinema architect George Coles.

Right - An Art Deco Light Fitting at the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtey Charles Jenkins.

Gearing in connection with the Troxy Theatre's extended stage and Organ lift - Courtesy Roger Fox. Constructed on an almost island site this vast Theatre was also equipped with a large stage and plenty of dressing rooms for its artists. The Theatre also had a Wurlitzer 3 Manual / 10 Ranks Theatre Organ, and a cafe and restaurant situated behind the Circle Foyer. The ERA reported on the opening of the Theatre in their 13th of September 1933 edition saying:- 'In building the Troxy, the brothers Hyams had the ambition of evolving a perfect theatre. How they have succeeded - with the help of George Coles, the architect - was manifest to the thousands who packed the house at its opening performance on Monday night.

Left - Gearing in connection with the Troxy Theatre's extended stage and Organ lift - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Gearing in connection with the Troxy Theatre's extended stage and Organ lift - Courtesy Roger Fox. Fourteen-year-old Bridget Hughes performed the opening ceremony, and she was assisted by trumpeters, drummers and the band of the Scots Guards.

Right - Gearing in connection with the Troxy Theatre's extended stage and Organ lift - Courtesy Roger Fox.

It is an amazing theatre. It occupies a commanding position in Commercial-road, not fifty yards away from a little cinema called the Popular which the Hymas opened on the the same date twenty years ago. On that occasion the house was packed to suffocation and the total takings were £16. The new Troxy has cost £250,000 and it accommodates 3,520

In comfort, convenience and elegance it surpasses any other place of amusement I have ever seen. Although it is intended to use it exclusively as a cinema - "King Kong" and "The Mind Reader" are the opening films - the stage has been constructed with the latest contrivances for spectacle and effective presentations, including some innovations that are exclusive to the Troxy. Among these is a revolving concert batten, that permits of the full complement of lights being used in each colour sequence. There are twenty-four balcony spots, each with self-changing colour-filters, and these can be used separately or all together.

A plan of the stage at the Troxy Theatre which shows three revolves and the elaborate forestage / orchestra pit arrangement of lifts - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Above - A plan of the stage at the Troxy Theatre which shows three revolves and the elaborate forestage / orchestra pit arrangement of lifts - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Then there are four revolving stages, one miniature one within a larger one that revolves in the opposite way and at a smaller speed, so that a vocalist standing on this small island is always facing the audience while the folk on the larger stage revolve round him.

Phil Hyams told me quite seriously that he hopes he will not have to use all these contraptions, but if a big film programme will not pull them in, then he will have to offer other fare, and he is all prepared for either event. You ought to see the Magnascope! It turns King Kong into an Emperor.

Another bright idea at the Troxy is the control panel in front of the best seat in the circle. Here an official will be always on duty when the house is open, and he will be able to control all sounds from the audience's point of view.

I have omitted reference to hundreds of other attractions at the Troxy. Every live exhibitor should go and have a look at it. Reg Sowden has been transferred from the Metropole to handle the managerial reins. E. W. B.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 13th September 1933.

The Auditorium of the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.

Above - The Auditorium of the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.

The Auditorium Circle of the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.Run by Gaumont Super Cinemas from August 1935, and then Gaumont British Theatres from February 1944, the Theatre was used for the showing of all the latest film releases along with live theatre and variety on its large stage.

Right - The Auditorium Circle of the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.

In November 1960 the Troxy was closed due to lack of support from a dwindling local population, and it then remained closed until it was re-imagined as the London Opera Centre in 1963, a rehearsal space for the Royal Opera House who enlarged the stage to the same proportions as their Covent Garden home. They also used the rear stalls of the Cinema for the construction of scenery for their productions, and the rear of the circle for storage. The front of the circle was used for seating for occasional performances and tryouts of their productions.

An Illustrated Article on the London Opera Centre formerly the Troxy Cinema - From the ILN, 23rd November 1963.

Above - An Illustrated Article on the London Opera Centre formerly the Troxy Cinema - From the ILN, 23rd November 1963.

An Auditorium Ceiling Panel at the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.In 1990 the Royal Opera House gave up the building, their own Theatre having been extended in 1982 making the Troxy surplus to requirements. This wasn't the end for the Troxy however, as it was then granted a Grade II Listed Status by English Heritage in 1991, and was converted for full time Bingo as a Top Rank Bingo Club, and then Mecca Bingo, which lasted until it finally closed in May 2006.

Right - An Auditorium Ceiling Panel at the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.

Following this the building was converted into a so called 'Banqueting Suite' in 2007 which involved restoring the building's fixtures and fittings and altering it for the purpose, at great expense too. However, it wasn't very successful and by October 2008 the Troxy was put to use as a Concert Venue and Nightclub with a 2,500 capacity.

A Google StreetView Image of the Troxy, Commercial Road, London - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Troxy, Commercial Road, London - Click to Interact.

The Organ Console at the Troxy Theatre in April 2011 on its first, non-operational, public viewing - Courtesy Roger Fox.In 2010 installation began at the Troxy of the Theatre Organ from the long ago demolished Trocadero Cinema on the New Kent Road in Elephant & Castle, by the Cinema Organ Society. The Troxy's own Theatre Organ having been removed many years earlier.

Right - The Organ Console at the Troxy Theatre in April 2011 on its first, non-operational, public viewing - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Details about the Organ, its installation at the Troxy, and the project to restore it to full working order can be found on the Trocadero Wurlitzer Trust's website here.

The Stage of the Troxy Cinema in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.In February 2012 the Troxy became a Cinema again for just one week when it was put to use to screen the Noel Coward film 'Brief Encounter', along with live music and an organist, it was the first time the Theatre had been used to screen a film in 52 years.

In 2013 the Troxy screened it's original opening film 'King Kong' as a celebration of its 80 year history.

Left - The Stage of the Troxy Theatre in November 2010 - Courtesy Charles Jenkins.

In 2021 a planning application to restore the foyer by removing recent additions and to open the stage fully by removing later walls was submitted, details can be found on the Theatres Trust site here.

Today the Troxy is in use as a popular Concert Venue and Events Space, you may like to visit their own Website here.

If you have any more information or Images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

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