EMD Cinema

The silent screens of E17

The owners of Walthamstows historic EMD Cinema are appealing the decision made in September to reject their plans to turn the building on Hoe Street in to a church. It would be a tragedy if this cinema fell out of public use and we don’t have to look too far to see what awaits the EMD if the UCKG get their way.

At the other end of Hoe Street is the Kingsway International Christian Centre, built in 1913 as the 830 seater Empress Electric Picture Theatre, it closed as a cinema in 1963 and after years of neglect and a serious fire it opened as the Kingsway centre in 2007. The building is still listed but very little of the original interior or character survives, the fire destroyed much of it and the internal layout was changed to increase the capacity to 1000. Is this the fate that awaits the EMD? Closed to most of us, nothing much left other than a shell, the beautiful interiors left to rot until they can’t be saved.

These two buildings on Hoe Street are not the only survivors from Walthamstows golden age of cinema, I can think of several that still stand but sadly none of them are used for their original purpose. Woodstreet indoor market was once the 800 seat Wood Street Picture Palace, Rileys pool hall on Bell corner opened in 1913 as the Empire. Abbey Dental Practice next door to St James Street Station was the St James Electric Picture Palace, a venue that did a roaring trade at first but struggled in the brave new world of talking pictures as the trains next door were too loud.  Talking pictures were a big hit at the Savoy (now Gala bingo) on Lea Bridge Road and the 1930’s built Dominion still stands behind the Cock Tavern but is slowly crumbling away, this can’t be allowed to happen to the EMD.

All of these buildings are packed with history but have either been abandoned or repurposed and are unlikely to ever reopen as a cinema. The only chance we have to bring one of these silent screens back to life is the with the EMD.  This has always been a multi purpose venue, playing host to films, stage shows and music and it’s this kind of venue that Walthamstow needs and not another church. A vibrant entertainment venue in the heart of E17 that would be open to all, the past preserved and the building protected.

Objections to the UCKG plans can be submitted to the  national planning inspectorate but the deadline is November the 1st, this is probably our last chance to try to save the grand building on Hoe Street and stop it becoming another silent screen.  Tell the planners what you think by emailing leanne.palmer@pins.gsi.gov.uk quoting ref. APP/U5930/A/12/2183662/NWF you must include your postal address.

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