The Angel Picture Theatre, 7 Islington High Street, Islington
Later - The Angel Cinema / The Odeon Cinema
Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Angel Picture Theatre, Islington - Click to Interact
The Angel Picture Theatre was situated on the High Street in Islington and was built by A. Davis to the designs of the architect H. Courtenay Constantine. The Theatre opened on the 19th of March 1913, a day before the opening of the Palladium Picturehouse in Brixton. The Cinema was named after the 16th century Angel Inn which once stood where the Angel Hotel building of 1899 remains today, albeit as a branch of the Co-operative Bank, just two doors down from the Angel Picture Theatre itself. The area and local underground station also bear the Angel name today.
The Cinema News and Property Gazette reported on the new Angel Picture Theatre in their 26th of March 1913 edition saying:- 'It was with the greatest of interest that I commenced a tour of the new Angel Picture Theatre, at Islington. A courteous assistance from Mr. A. Davis and his able manager, Mr. T. J. Robinson enabled me to gather a number of interesting facts, and these were more than verified by a subsequent ramble round the huge building. The word "ramble" is quite justified, for, notwithstanding a crowded attendance, the splendidly proportioned promenades made the "tour" an easy task.
Left - Among The Cinemas - An Article published in The Cinema News and Property Gazette, 26th of March 1913.
Commencing with the exterior, I noted the height of the beautiful tower, 104 feet, which will be visible for miles, and is to be furnished with a powerful searchlight. The classic design of the frontage, the work of Mr. Courtenay Constantine, who was architect for theatres at Highbury (described in our issue of February 5th), Cardiff, and elsewhere, is remarkably fine. The main entrance, a noble archway forms the base; then proportions diminish until the eye reaches the crowning lantern-tower, and its classical Roman columns with surmounting dome.
Half way up the main frontage a niche is formed, which contains the statue of the Angel, holding an illuminated torch, while on flanking parapets are placed beautiful metal flambeaux tripods. These, with the artistic lighting of the entrance, combine a striking and an artistic display. A marble-paved entrance, with marble steps 14 feet in, will lead to the beautiful entrance-hall. Here a dome, with foliated stained-glass panels, and illuminated by an "eye rest" B.T.H. indirect reflecting bowl of chaste design, arrests the eye. Three-light torch fittings between the panels complete a splendid effect.
Entering polished oak doors, the noble proportions of the theatre, which is 150 feet by 75. strike one at once. The stalls and area, although seating over 1,200, have ample promenade room and side alcoves, while the balcony accommodates 300, with a similar sense of space. An air of luxury, from the tip-ups at 3d. to those at 1s., is enhanced by the rich colour scheme of furnishing. Messrs. H. Lazarus and Son, who were furnishing contractors, were given "carte-blanche," and with Rose Du Barri Axminster carpets and rich crimson plush for seating and curtains, have made a handsome job. The well designed valance and tableaux curtains which grace the proscenium are by the same firm. Columns and pilasters of chaste Roman design support a fine Corinthian entablature. This forms the base for an arcade vaulted ceiling of noble proportions, the effect of which is greatly enhanced by deep panelling and baroque ornaments. The lighting by means of indirect reflection from plastic bowl fittings bv the B. T. H. Company, is on their famous eye-rest system, and. with the torch candelabra at sides, is controlled by "dimmer regulation," a system recommended for picture theatres some years ago by the writer.
Of late the British Thomson-Houston Company have done a large number of similar installations, and the effect has in every case proved an ideal one. The decorative plaster work, bv Messrs. Pannichelli of Hammersmith, has been well carried out, while Messrs. E. J. Harrington and Courtenay Constantine who were responsible for the architecture of the interior, deserve every praise for their efforts. The greater part of the artistic decoration, also the statuary and main entrance, were specially designed by Mr. Constantine, also the magnificent exterior and the tower.
Mr. A. Davis, of the London Housing Society, was the builder, while electrical work was done by Mr. Hawtagne. A beautiful proscenium encloses the draped screen, before which performs a selected orchestra, including a harp and a fine solo violinist and solo 'cello, under the direction of Constantine Boga. The 'cello soloist is an artiste who should alone draw a crowd of appreciative patrons.
From the screen to the box is a distance of 115 feet. Two machines are used, a Silent Empire and a Gaumont Chrono. It is indeed difficult to form a comparison between the two, for the pictures are alike excellent, and could not be beaten for definition or steadiness. The operator is Mr. C. W. Berry, and his assistant Mr. Rosenthal.
Two M.G. sets are installed of 6.5 K. Watts each, running at 1,400 R.P.H., and giving on low pressure side 100 amps, at 65 volts, transforming from 530. These are by the well-known Electric Ordnance and Accessories Company, Birmingham, with "Vickers'" dynamos.
In the orchestra a large pipe organ is shortly to be installed by Norman and Beard, Norwich, costing £700, [with] pipes on either side of proscenium and with [a] detached console. The control will be pneumatic, with electric blowing and automatic starting, so that with the excellent orchestra a wealth of effects will be under the direction of the conductor.
A smartly attired Staff, mostly over 6 feet, and numbering 20 was noted. Several are Guardsmen, and the uniforms, specially designed by the Uniform Clothing and Equipment Company, were worn, from the pages to the pensioner at the front with a notable air of distinction. The management are to be congratulated upon a courteous and efficient set of attendants, who are, moreover, being paid in every case a "living wage."
I was pleased to recognise an interesting acquaintance in the smart manager, Mr. T. J. Robinson, who, in addition to managing the Southend Hippodrome, and 11 years' management of Alexandra Theatre, Stoke Newington, also toured the kingdom with Purcell's and other theatrical enterprises. Another instance of a theatre man "coming over to pictures." He has a splendid house in the "Angel," and his courteous attention should, as elsewhere, soon gain him a very large circle of friends and patrons.
The proprietors, the Social Service and Educational Entertainment Co., Limited, are to be congratulated upon a palatial and a model theatre, and, with their opening entertainments, have made a brilliant inauguration of what promises to be one of London's "landmarks" in "pictures."'
The above text in quotes was first published in The Cinema News and Property Gazette, 26th of March 1913.
The Angel picture Theatre opened on the 19th of March 1913, but in 1926 it was taken over by Associated Provincial Picture Houses who where themselves taken over by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT) in 1929, at this time the Theatre was renamed the Angel Cinema.
In 1963 the Theatre was renamed The Odeon Cinema after the Rank Organisation had merged with Gaumont who were part of the PCT group.
The Cinema was closed after the last showing of the films 'Burke and Hare' and 'More Dead Than Alive' on the 18th of March 1972, and then remained boarded up until the auditorium was demolished in 1974 and an office building was constructed on the site. However, the Balcony Entrance and Tower of the former Theatre were kept, although bricked up, for the next 25 years before being refurbished for use as a branch of Starbucks in 1999, which is today a Grade II Listed Building.
Information for this Theatre's later years was gleaned from the excellent Cinema Treasures Website.
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