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The forgotten cinema in North Harrow

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself looking at different parts of Harrow and wondering what it would have been like in years gone by. In this particular feature, we take a look at a cinema that many of you probably don’t remember – Embassy Cinema in North Harrow.

That’s right – there was a cinema based in Pinner Road, North Harrow where you would currently find The Gym these days. The building could be found at the corner of Imperial Drive and Station Road junction, and just a stone’s throw away from North Harrow Station.

If you go to the location now, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that we are making this up! but the story is true. In fact, Harrow was blessed with a number of cinemas that were equally as popular during this time period, with others to be found at Belmont Circle and in Queensbury – just to name a couple.

The forgotten cinema in North Harrow Harrow Online
How the area looks today. Credit: Google Maps

The cinema In North Harrow was opened in October 1928 by actress Betty Balfour, a popular English actress from the silent movie era, known as the “British Mary Pickford” and “Britain’s Queen of Happiness”, Betty starred in Nothing Else Matters (1921), Monte Carlo (1925) and a host of other films that were popular during the 1920s. She was indeed a perfect candidate to choose to open the cinema.

The Embassy Cinema, as it was called, had a cafe attached and also featured concerts and other activities for guests, not just cinema. The venue was also fortunate enough to have a huge car park in the basement of the building.

The forgotten cinema in North Harrow Harrow Online
Days gone by at old cinemas. Credit: Unsplash

Embassy Cinema shut its doors for the final time back in 1963 to the disappointment of many Harrow residents, and despite local objection at the time, the site was demolished to make room for a brand new 10-pin bowling alley called ABC Bowling, later renamed Super Bowl. The site also became home to Safeway supermarket which remained at the venue until the mid-2000s.

As of 2023, the site is now occupied by The Gym and a housing block, but older Harrow residents will no doubt recall The Embassy Cinema, and fondly look back at movies they may have seen there with their loved ones.

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