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CAMDEN HIPPODROME, Camden Town
(1913-1940)
1a Camden Street, London NW1

Imagine classical-style statues standing on the corners of the upper and lower roofs and an elaborate cupola on top of the green dome and you get some idea of how even more impressive this building, designed by W.G.R. Sprague, once was. Ellen Terry opened the 1600-seat Camden Theatre on Boxing Day 1900. In 1909 it became a variety theatre under the name Camden Hippodrome. Film seasons began in 1911 but the theatre did not become a cinema proper until 1913, under the ownership of Biocolor Picture Theatre Ltd.

Live acts were still used to support the films in the 1920s. In 1928 "Novelty Nights" were introduced on Fridays, with up to seven live acts before the films. In 1933, now under the control of Gaumont British Pictures, the cinema was wired for sound. Free Chrismastime performances were given for local children and the cinema was hired by the London County Council for special children's educational performances.

The cinema closed in 1940 and for some twenty years from 1945 the building became a BBC theatre. During the 1970s there were plans to demolish the building; the local council saved it by licensing it for use as a night-club. Today it is a music and dance club.

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