Date of closure: 1996
Address (for reference only):
140 Maida Vale
This venue has quite a history, having opened as the Picture Palace in 1913, throughout its life serving many purposes and still continuing to do so to this day. Although not huge, it could accommodate a seven piece orchestra for early films, and was famed for its luxurious interior.
Its exterior was also rather grand, as it had copper topped domes either side of the front entrance facade. Carpet was not evident in the foyer as that would have hidden its splendid marble floor. It even had a Georgian fireplace, and panelled oak walls. The circle inside contained several curtained boxes, which must have been at a premium in those days (as they probably would have been now if it wasn’t for the smoking ban).
It was renamed the Picture House in 1920 after it was taken over by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, and went through more changes of ownership until it finally closed during the war. It reopened as the Carlton Rooms, a dance venue in 1949, after alterations were made to the building. BBC orchestras recorded at the venue although as dance halls began losing popularity it closed its doors, and Mecca Bingo took over in 1961. It had a very long run as a bingo hall, closing in 1996, its last owners Jasmine Bingo falling foul of the economic and legislative conditions that forced many clubs to close in the era. Luckily the building itself is Grade II listed, and it is currently in use as the Islamic Cultural Centre.
By Gareth Whieldon (January 2011)