5-9 St. Peters Street,
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Styles: Italian Renaissance
Previous Names: Cannon
The beautiful Granada Theatre in Bedford was one of this chain’s ‘standard’ designs, very similar to others in Harrow, Slough, Welling, Greenford, North Cheam, East Ham, Shrewsbury and Maidstone. Only the latter two named preceded the Bedford building and only by a few months. The Granada Bedford was opened on 15th December 1934 with William Powell in “The Thin Man” and Laurel & Hardy in “The Private Lives of Oliver the Eighth”.
The interior decoration was by Theodore Komisarjevsky and consisted (in all the standard design Granada’s) of the Italian Renaissance style that he had so successfully deployed on the Phoenix Theatre in London. On either side of a rectangular screen opening were three roundheaded decorative metal grilles above a balustrade. The grilles were boxed in by two fluted pillasters which were very slightly smaller than those on either side of the proscenium. Above both grilles and stage was a frieze in the style of an old oil painting. The remaining walls were essentially plain but painted to look like stone blocks. The Granada Theatre’s were definately stylish and luxurious. The seating was divided between a 996 seat stalls and a 694 seat circle.
At Bedford a small stage was provided with a Wurlitzer 3Manual/8Ranks organ in the centre of the orchestra pit, which was opened by organist Harold Betts. The stage was only 17 feet deep but was still used on a regular basis for variety and pop concerts. The proscenium opening was 54 feet wide.
The main cinema was never sub-divided, instead a second screen opened in 1974 in the former (large) resturant. It seated 209.
When a multiplex was propsed for the town Granada threw in the towel and sold the cinema to a development company who leased it back to them until the site was needed. In 1989 all the remaining Granada cinemas, including the short time left on the Bedford Granada lease to Cannon Cinemas who renamed all of them Cannon. However the Bedford Cannon cinema closed the following year and was swiftly demolished.
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