Regeneration: EMD Cinema, Walthamstow

EMD Cinema

Alert

In 2019, Waltham Forest Council bought the former EMD cinema on Hoe Street in Walthamstow to ensure it remained an entertainment venue and brought economic, social and environmental benefits to Waltham Forest residents and businesses.

In an innovative partnership with Soho Theatre, the EMD cinema will transformed into a 950 seat theatre, bar and restaurant, community space, garden terrace and more. The £25m investment into the venue’s revival is part of the Council’s London Borough of Culture legacy commitment to place culture at the heart of its communities..

The venue will open in spring 2022 and is expected to become a magnet for visitors wanting to experience world-class culture in the borough, helping to boost the local evening and nighttime economy and support our existing businesses. It is projected that the local economic benefit from the theatre will be more than £50m over 10 years.

Soho Theatre’s wide-ranging programme will be announced towards the end of 2021. It is set to feature some of the biggest names in UK and international comedy as well as an annual pantomime and special events (from music to screenings and performance) alongside dedicated community, education and schools programmes. Soho Theatre has already established many connections with schools, young people and other groups across the borough over the last ten years. 

The Council has extensively consulted local residents and businesses when developing its plans, which respect the heritage of the much-loved Art Deco building and seeks to maintain its appearance, as well as the design and character of the interior and the main façade.

The Council purchased the site with sitting tenants operating the Victoria Pub and Mirth, Marvel, and Maud. Mirth made the decision to close in early January 2020. The Victoria Pub was set to continue to operate until summer 2020, when the full refurbishment of the entire building begins, but they have closed early due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Victoria Pub and Welcome to the Forest Bar will be developed as commercial premises for uses that complement the theatre. The Council recognises the significant cultural contribution from both the Mirth and The Victoria over the years and is in ongoing discussions with the owners of much-loved local landmark The Victoria about how they could be part of the future operation.

The Council is working with developer Willmott Dixon Interiors and architects Pilbrow & Partners. The main refurbishment will begin immediately and is expected to complete in Spring 2022. Council staff and contractors will be operating under revised health and safety protocols in order to fully comply with Government guidance around social distancing and advice from the Construction Leadership Council.

Planning Applications

The development’s planning application (ref 201007) and Listed Building Consent application reference number (ref 201008) were unanimously given go ahead by the Council’s virtual Planning Committee on Tuesday 2 June 2020.

What happens when?

  • The site was made safe for contractors to begin works in May 2019
  • Pre-planning consultations took place in January 2020
  • Main refurbishment will start during summer 2020
  • Work is expected to finish in spring 2022.

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Share your memories!

We would love to hear your memories of the much-loved building! Did you watch bands like The Beatles and The Who at the Granada? Were you a regular at Saturday Morning pictures or did you go to the EMD as a child? 

Email us your memories and pictures

We'll aim to include as many as possible in an official archive of the Grade II* listed community building as it enters its next exciting phase.

Background and History Click to get info

Mirth, Marvel and Maud (previously known as Granada Cinema, Walthamstow EMD, MGM Cinema and ABC Cinema) is a Grade II* listed building housing a pub, cinema and cultural centre in Walthamstow, London. The pub will remain open until works begin in 2020.

The building is famous for having been frequented by Alfred Hitchcock and for being built on a site where films were shown as early as 1896.

In 1930 Granada PLC built a 2,697 seat cinema, opened as The Granada. The building featured exteriors by Cecil Masey and interior decorations by Theodore Komisarjevsky.

Often used as a concert venue, the venue held a concert by the Beatles on May 24 1963. Other famous musical acts to have performed there include Dusty Springfield, The Who, The Duke Ellington Band, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, John Coltrane, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and many more!

Between 1989 and 2000, the cinema changed ownership several times, Cannon Cinemas, Virgin and ABC, before being purchased by Odeon. Less than a year after the Odeon took over, the cinema was sold to textile millionaire Mohan Sharma and renamed the EMD Cinema supposedly from the initials of his three daughters.

The cinema was closed in Aug 2002 and bought by the Brazil-based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God with plans to turn it into a church. A campaign by local residents led to 12 years of legal wrangling over the cinema’s future.

At the time of its closure as a cinema in December 2003, it was the only cinema to have an original working Christie Organ still in place at the cinema where it was originally installed. 

Since 2016, the building has been home to the Antic Pub Mirth, Marvel & Maud.

About Soho Theatre Click to get info

Soho Theatre are a charity and social enterprise. They produce and co-produce new plays, work with associate artists and present the best new emerging theatre companies. The Walthamstow Granada will be their second venue, joining Dean Street in their buzzing London locations.

Their vision for the Walthamstow Granada reimagines cine-variety for the 21st Century. As a local theatre with a national profile, it will be rooted in its community but able attract audiences and press attention from across London and the UK.

The new programme will be a high-quality cultural offer in the borough, and a further driver for local economy. It will include

  • A selection of the best live comedy, music and theatre, from all over the country
  • One-off film events, and streaming of major cultural and sporting events
  • A buzzing bar and foyer where artists, audiences and locals can meet, mingle and mix together
  • A restaurant catering for the local community and visiting audiences

Check out Soho Theatre’s website to get a taster of their current programme.

Further Information Click to get info

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, or if you’d like to contact the team