Astoria

Astoria

Opened: 1930
Closed: 1971
Address: 232-236 Seven Sister Road
Demolished: No
Now: Church

The Astoria opened on the 29th September 1930 with a gala performance that included ballet and dance performances. The cinema was spectacular – an extravagant and elaborate recreation of a Spanish palace. Over 200 uniformed staff were emplyed, a full orchestra and an auditorium that could seat 3000. Not only were blockbuster films shown, but live shows, such Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Nat King Cole were common.

In 1955 the actor Jack Hawkins attended the cinema’s 25th anniversary to present long service awards to the staff. In his speech he assured the audience that television ‘offered no serious threat to cinema’ – how wrong could he be? The Astoria closed in September 1971, less than two months later the building re-opened as a rock venue called the ‘Rainbow’. In 1974 the building was given Grade II listing. Today, with guidance from English Heritage, the church that now owns the building has reinstated much of the Astoria’s original internal decoration.

Astoria, Finsbury Park, 1930Astoria, Finsbury Park, 1930. Photographer: unknown

 

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    “Now Fred was a proper gentleman, he was lovely in fact when he was a young man and went out to work he took me to the pictures to the Astoria and it was only just recently opened, it was a new cinema and it was huge it was on a… on a corner you know… and you walked in to this beautiful vestibule… there was all palm trees and goldfish floating around in the water, oh it was absolutely gorgeous place. Oh I thought it was wonderful. Goodness knows, probably only cost about one and six to get in. It was marvellous! And he bought me ice cream. I just thought my brother was absolutely gorgeous…”

Do you remember this cinema?

Do you or someone you know remember going to ‘the pictures’ at this cinema – was it a ‘palace’ or a ‘flea pit’? Where you there for its closing film? Or was it your regular Saturday night out or maybe you went on a Sunday for the matinee? Why don't you add your voice to this growing archive about Islington's Lost Cinemas.

Maybe you even have an old photo which we could include on the website, if so please email it to info@islingtonslostcinemas.com, all images will be fully credited.