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FORUM, Kentish Town
9-17 Highgate Road, London NW5

The Forum was built by Herbert Yapp, a cinema magnate who also owned Forum cinemas in the Fulham Road and in Ealing. It was designed by J.S. Beard and his partner W.R. Bennett and had a 35 ft proscenium, 25 ft deep, with six dressing rooms, a Compton organ and a safety curtain weighing 5 tons.The seating capacity was 2175. On the first floor was a large tea room and dance hall where tea dances took place; there was even a cosmetics room for the lady patrons. The Forum was launched with a grand opening ceremony of music and films, conducted by the star Sydney Howard, on 17th December 1934. In March 1935 the Forum cinemas, including this one, were taken over by Associated British Cinemas; however it was another 28 years before the cinema actually changed its name to the ABC.

The ABC closed down as a cinema in 1970, becoming a bingo hall and later a dance hall. In the 1980s the name was changed to the Town and Country Club, but in 1992 the building was again called the Forum. In 1995 occasional films were shown once more as part of music and dance presentations on Sunday evenings. The Forum is still a live music venue.

"I wish they'd turn it back into a cinema," said a local lady passer-by to me when I took the above photograph, "It's so rowdy when they all pile out at the end of a Saturday night!"

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