Grosvenor Cinema Rayners Lane, Harrow

  • 440 Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, Middlesex, HA2 9TL
  • Designed by: Frank Ernest Bromige
  • Built: 1936
  • Tags: Art Deco, Church, Cinema

Standing on Alexandra Avenue in Harrow, Middlesex, the former Grosvenor Cinema was built in 1936 for the Grosvenor cinema company. The cinema was designed by Frank Ernest Bromige LRIBA (1902-1979). Bromige was a London-based architect practising, at the time, out of Kingly Street in Westminster. His works in London include the former Kingsland Empire in Dalston, the Dominion Acton (later the Acton Granada, now a bingo hall) and the Dominion Hounslow.

The cinema was built by the local firm of T F Nash Ltd. With the extension of the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines of the London Underground network, there was a rapid expansion of suburban London. Housebuilding proliferated and Nash built a great number of homes on three 'estates' in the South Harrow, Rayner's Lane and Eastcote areas of outer-north west London. The cinema opened to the public on 12 October 1936.

The front elevation of the building is very dramatic. At the left corner, three sets of double doors provide an entrance to the foyer. These are set beneath a stepped, curved canopy. Above, the facade is formed of three curved, white-rendered bays: a central, convex-curved bay and two shorter outside ogive-curved bays. The two outside bays have full height metal-framed windows following the same ogive-curve. Within the central bay the curve of the windows is reversed, in a bold, concave curve.

The void created between the curves is filled by a stylised concrete form, likened to an elephant's head and trunk. From the roof parapet of the central bay a feature of projecting concentric curves - forming the elephant's 'head' - protrudes from the facade, descending down in an elegant curved shaped - forming the 'trunk' - to rest on the canopy below. Either side of the trunk, wide, full height metal-framed windows provide light into the building.

To the right, the main elevation of the auditorium is less expressive in its design. The lower two storeys are rendered, with those above faced in red brick. The brickwork above is broken by a strip of render running between the third storey window frames. At street level a number of doors and small metal framed windows break up the expanse of render. Originally a metal canopy provided protection from the elements at street level, but this was removed at some point. Numerous advertising boards of different shapes and sizes were placed at street level. A pitched roof is partially disguised on the front and right-hand side by a brick parapet.

The cinema became part of Oscar Deutsch's Odeon cinema chain in May 1937. In October 1950 it was renamed the Gaumont, although the Gaumont chain was now part of the Rank Organisation (as was the Odeon chain). It then reverted back to the Odeon name in April 1964 before disposal. The cinema reopened as the Ace Cinema in November 1981, before final closure on 6 October 1986.

In 1990 the building was converted into the Grosvenor Cine/Bar Experience nightclub, later becoming the Studio Warehouse nightclub. In 2000 the building was purchased by Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe to serve as a place and worship and European headquarters. The building has since been restored and renovated.

The building was awarded Grade-II listed status on 13 March 1981 and re-listed with Grade-II* listed status on 27 January 1984.

Posted on Sunday, January 1, 2012

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