EMD Gravesend Cinema

Travel back in time and see this cinema in its heyday.

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The Majestic Cinema was opened on 1st October 1931 with Ralph Lynn in “Rookery Nook”. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels, and the auditorium was illuminated by troughs containing concealed lighting. The proscenium was 40 feet wide and the stage was 10 feet deep. There were four dressing rooms. The cinema also boasted a cafe, for the convenience of its patrons. It was taken over by the Union Cinemas chain on 23rd December 1933, and they installed a Compton 3Manual/7Ranks organ which had an illuminated console and a grand piano attachment, which was opened by organist Reginald New.

The Union Cinemas chain were taken over by Associated British Cinema(ABC) in 1937. The Majestic Cinema was re-named ABC in 1963. The Compton organ was removed in 1968. It was closed for tripling in 1972, and re-opened on December 26th 1972 with ABC 1 in the former circle having 576 seats, and ABC’s 2 & 3 in the former rear stalls having 320 & 107 seats. It was taken over by the Cannon Group in 1986 & re-named Cannon. In the early-1990’s it became the MGM, and by 1995, was again ABC in a management buy-out, soon to be taken over by Odeon Theatres.

Auditorium of the Majestic Cinema, Gravesend in 1933. Courtesy Richard Jones via Ken Roe

Odeon leased the building to an independent operator, with a proviso that it didn’t screen English language films, so it screened East Indian ‘Bollywood’ films under the name EMD Cinema. Closed in 2002, it was taken over by the United Church of the Kingdom of God (who also took over the former Granada/EMD, Walthamstow in East London, which today still causes much controversy). UCKG had moved out of the former Majestic/ABC by 2006. In 2009, a major fire brought the roof down, and the auditorium was demolished. The front of the building remains.