ABC Purley

116 High Street,
Purley, CR8 2XT

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Cannon Cinemas, Shipman & King Cinemas Ltd.

Architects: Frederick Charles Mitchell

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Astoria Cinema, Cannon

Nearby Theaters

ABC Purley

Located in Purley, Surrey, today an area to the south of Greater London. It was the last to be built in a small chain of Astoria Cinemas that were operated by E.F. Lyons in Brighton, Worthing, Folkstone and Southend-on-Sea.

The Astoria Cinema opened on 2nd April 1934 with Maurice Chevalier in “The Way to Love” and Barbara Stanwyck in “Ever in My Heart”. The cinema was equipped with a café, full stage facilities and a Compton 3Manuals/5Ranks organ that was opened by organist Robin Richmond. It also boasted a free car park. Seating was provided in stalls and dress circle levels.

The Astoria Cinema was taken over by the Shipman and King Circuit in February 1949. The EMI Group had taken over S & K and the ABC circuit by 1974 and it was decided to close down the ABC operated Regal Cinema, Purley and convert the Astoria Cinema into a triple screen operation which re-opened in May 1974. Screen 1 in the former circle seated 438 and screens 2 and 3 in the front stalls area seated 135 and 120. A bar was built into the rear stalls area and all decoration within the auditorium was removed or covered over. The Compton organ was removed and installed in a Civic Hall in Ballerup, Scotland (It is now in the City School, Sheffield). On 26 October 1978 an additional screen seating 76 using video projection was created in what had formally been the café area.

In 1985 the EMI Group was passed on to the Cannon Group and the cinemas were re-named Cannon. The 76 seat video projection screen was closed in July 1986. After Cannon was dispersed, it was taken back by a new ABC Cinemas company and re-named ABC Purley.

It closed on 13th May 1999 and was demolished in February 2000. Residential flats named Astoria Court have been built on the site.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

DAVID STICKLAND on February 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I became the second projectionist at the Astoria Purley in December 1969 after being transfered from the Embassy Cinema Tenterden. Kent. Chief Projectionist Roy Roberts and myself were a team of four operators. The other two were second (Richard (Dick) Rapley) and a third operator from the Ritz Brixton. (Mr Hunter) was the manager at the time and I remember two usherettes, (Dawn Preston), and a (Mrs Marston). Somehow, I never took a liking to this cinema, and after only twelve months, left with Chief Roy Roberts to run the State Theatre Grays, Essex.

HJM on January 11, 2021 at 6:38 am

Some further information.:- My grandfather bought the Astoria in 1935 as HJM Cinemas which was managed by my father (Harry) until its sale in 1949. I remember visiting several times as a small child and have vague memories of films, projection room, foyer, lounge and the back office. My father stayed in touch for many years with 1. the projectionist Eric Pahl (his wife Susie and pet black poodle who I met a couple of times as a teenager. He lived in Church Road, Hythe. 2. Mrs Ivy Jeeves (who lived in Church Road, Horley. I believe she later worked at a shop in Massets? Road. I have other vague memories but they are unresolved. If surviving relatives would like more details along with those requiring more information, please get in touch.

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