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In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow

Many of you will know that Harrow once housed two remarkable cinemas that became an integral part of its cultural landscape from the 1930s onward.

The Dominion Cinema and the Granada Theatre captivated audiences with their architectural beauty and diverse entertainment offerings in Harrow for years until both were redeveloped.

Looking back to the time of their arrival, in the mid-1900s, Hollywood became the centre of the global film industry, producing numerous iconic films and establishing the star system. The Golden Age of Hollywood saw the rise of legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick, who shaped the art of filmmaking with their distinctive styles.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

The 1950s and 1960s witnessed the advent of new technologies like color cinematography and widescreen formats, enhancing the visual experience for moviegoers. This period also saw the emergence of independent cinema and movements like the French New Wave, challenging traditional storytelling conventions.

The 1970s brought a wave of groundbreaking films, often referred to as the “New Hollywood,” with directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Spielberg pushing boundaries and exploring new narratives in cinema. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the rise of blockbuster cinema, marked by high-concept films, special effects, and franchises like Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

With the dawn of the 21st century, digital technology transformed filmmaking. CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) revolutionized visual effects, enabling filmmakers to create fantastical worlds and creatures. The rise of streaming services and online platforms also reshaped film distribution and consumption, leading to new opportunities and challenges for the industry.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

Let’s explore the history and significance of these cherished theaters, both in Harrow Town Centre.

The Dominion Cinema:
Opened in 1936, the Dominion Cinema on Station Road was a stunning Art Deco masterpiece designed by Frank Ernest Bromige. Although its plain interior contrasted with the flamboyant facade, the cinema accommodated 2,500 patrons across its stalls and circle levels.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

After being acquired by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) a month later, it continued operating successfully, showcasing films and live variety performances. Renamed ABC in 1962, the cinema remained a local favorite until its closure in 1972. Subsequently divided into two units, it served as a bingo club and a smaller cinema.

The Granada Theatre:
The Granada Theatre, opened in 1937, delighted audiences with its Theodore Komisarjevsky-designed interior. Despite its unassuming exterior, the theater’s auditorium boasted a standard Granada decor, complete with grilles and an elegant chandelier.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

Over time, the theaters profitability led to its conversion into a three-screen cinema in 1973. However, the rise of multiplexes led to its closure in 1996. After years of being boarded up, the building was repurposed into a health club and gymnasium while preserving the iconic Wurlitzer organ.

The Dominion Cinema and the Granada Theatre left an indelible mark on Harrow’s entertainment scene. These cinemas entertained generations, showcasing the magic of film and live performances.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

While their original forms are no longer present, their legacy continues through the memories and stories shared by the community.

We would love to hear your stories from these cinemas in Harrow. Be sure to comment on our socials and let us know what films you remember seeing.

In pictures: The history of cinemas in Harrow Harrow Online

All image credits – Ian Grundy.

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