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Cinema behind the shops

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Walk along Hoe Street from Walthamstow Central and stop outside 324. It’s a shop called The Pavilion. Except it’s not a shop but a banquetting suite! Until recently you looked into very large windows at  a reception area, but now they have broken the wall through and you can see a large space beyond. The Pavilion is host to all the large and lavish Pakistani weddings in the area and traffic is regularly held up on Saturdays as grand cavalcades arrive.

Now look to the right and through the alley you will see a large old brick structure occupying the yard. You are looking at what began life as The Queen’s Cinema Walthamstow. Opened in 1911 behind shops owned by the Good Brothers, local builders who were diversifying into the new medium of showing films. The thing is it looks nothing like a cinema, because it is neatly hidden behind a row of shops.

The Queen’s along with many other Walthamstow cinemas enjoyed steady audiences till the mid 1930’s when it closed due to competition, not from television but the local speedway track! It opened again but was showing it’s last film in 1940. The building was later used as a store and then remained empty for a long time until 1959 when it re-opened as a billiard and snooker hall run by Temperance Ltd.

Then more recently it became The Pavilion and once again a focal point for the local community which is predominantly Pakistani, established over a number of years.

Do you know of a cinema in an unlikely location?

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