Address: 17 Highgate Hill
The Electric Palace was well located situated just a few doors up from the then Highgate underground station – what is today Archway station. This purpose built cinema, designed by Gilbert W Booth, first opened its doors to the public in December 1912 and provided entertainment for around 800 people in a single level auditorium.
The outside of the building was very striking looking much like a seashell rimmed with electric lighting. It was popular with locals who described it as having ‘an arch with rows of electric lights and when they were switched on it looked like an Arabian Palace in a fairy tale book.’^
Like so many of the cinemas during the early days of silent film the Electric Palace had its own musicians to play along with the films who known as the ‘Palace Orchestra’. In fact it was the ‘Palace Orchestra’ who chose and played the music that accompany what was described 100 years ago as the ‘greatest photo play of the age’, Les Miserables,* when the film first opened at the Electric Palace on the 3rd of February 1913.
It’s believed that the Electric Palace ran into tax problems in the 1950s and on the 12 April 1958 the cinema showed its final film, ‘Sayonara’ staring Marlon Brando. The building didn’t last long as it was soon demolished to make way for the Archway Tower complex, which was completed in 1963.
^ Quotes from cinemagoers cited in Draper. See Further Reading. (1989).
*Islington Gazette 31 January 1913.