Cineworld Cinema - Chelsea

279 Kings Road,
London, SW3 5EW

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Cannon Cinemas, Cineworld, Classic Cinemas (UK), Davis Pavilion Circuit, Essoldo Circuit (Contol) Ltd., Lou Morris, MGM Theatres, UGC, Virgin Cinemas

Architects: A.W. Hudson, Charles Edmund Wilford

Previous Names: Palaseum Rink and Picture Palace, King's Picture Playhouse, Ritz Cinema, Essoldo, Classic Curzon Cinema, King's Road Theatre, Cannon, MGM, Virgin, UGC

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Cineworld Cinema - Chelsea

Located in the west London district of Chelsea at an area of Kings Road known as World’s End. The building was constructed and opened in 1910 as the Palaseum Rink and Picture Palace. Films were viewed from a 200 seat balcony, presumably when there was not a roller-skating session in progress. This was a short-lived venture as by 1911 plans had been passed in May 1911 for architect A.W. Hudson to convert the building into a full time cinema and it re-opened on 5th October 1911 as the King’s Picture Playhouse with a seating capacity of 964.

It continued until a short closure in early-1943 when it re-opened as the Ritz Cinema, operated by Lou Morris. It was re-modelled by architect C. Edmond Wilford in 1949 and it became the Essoldo Chelsea. The original decorative fa├žade was smoothed over and raised slightly which gave the building a plainer look.

It was modernised again, reopening on 9th February 1968 with a reduced seating capacity of 432 (the circle was abandoned). In 1972 it became the Classic Curzon Cinema Chelsea (Classic already operated the original Classic Cinema further along Kings Road which has its own page on Cinema Treasures.), but it closed in 1973.

The empty and rather dilapidated former cinema was converted into the King’s Road Theatre and was the perfect setting for the original record breaking run of the cult stage musical “The Rocky Horror Show” starring Tim Curry which had originally opened on 19th June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs), Sloane Square, Chelsea, then transferred to the former Classic Cinema on King’s Road which had closed as a cinema on 4th August 1973. After 3 months the production transferred to the King’s Road Theatre from December 1973 until 1979 to packed houses and then transferred to London’s West End at the Comedy Theatre and closed on 13th September 1930 after a total number of 2,960 performances.

The Kings Road Theatre building was then converted back into a cinema, now with four screens and re-named Classic 1-2-3-4 Chelsea (as mentioned above, the other Classic Cinema on Kings Road had closed) opening on 17th April 1980, nothing remained of the original interior decoration. It continued under further management take-overs as the Cannon, MGM, Virgin and most recently UGC Chelsea until the July 2005 takeover by Cineworld UK.

In December 2012, plans were announced to close and demolish the Cineworld to build a new Everyman Cinema on the site, but the planning application was refused. The Cineworld closed on 9th March 2017 and demolition began in early-2018 and was completed in April 2018.

A new Everyman Cinema was built on the site which opened on 24th July 2020 (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 35 comments)

GPM10 on April 6, 2017 at 6:45 am

Thanks Billy, for the great final gallery. Sad to see it go (forgot how good the two main screens were) and it has the distinction for me of being one of only two places in London where I actually watched a firm in an otherwise empty cinema – a Screen 4 showing of “Daddy’s Dyin, Whose Got The Will” starring Dolly Parton, many years ago.

Zappomatic on January 26, 2018 at 6:18 am

A rare photo of the cinema as an MGM:

Billy on April 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Demolition began in early 2018 and the site has now been mostly cleared. A photo has been uploaded from April this year.

GPM10 on June 14, 2018 at 5:51 am

Passed the cleared site this week, no indication of whether the building eventually going up in its place will contain the earlier-mooted Everyman Cinema. We will have to wait and see.

GPM10 on March 11, 2019 at 5:55 am

Update : passed the site on Friday last (08/03/19) and there has been much progress – the replacement building is in an advanced state of construction and if matters continue to move forward at this pace, it should not be long before we know for certain whether or not a replacement cinema is definitely part of the build. A short distance away, the Curzon Chelsea is undergoing demolition, but it is known for certain that a replacement ‘state-of-the-art’ cinema will definitely be present when the building is ready to re-open in exactly three years' time – if on schedule, of course.

antovolk on November 13, 2019 at 6:23 am

Everyman Chelsea signage already up at the construction site!

Zappomatic on July 23, 2020 at 7:13 am

Everyman Chelsea due to open tomorrow:

rivest266 on May 26, 2021 at 11:04 am

Reopened as Classic 1-2-3-4 Chelsea on April 17th, 1980. Grand opening ads for 1911 and 1980 posted.

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