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The history of Ace Cinema in Rayners Lane

A trip to the cinema is something that the whole family can enjoy, and while modern cinemas are sleek and automated, in the ‘olden days’ they were just a little bit grander. In this article, we’re raising the curtain on Rayners Lane’s Ace Cinema.

It all began in 1936 when The Grosvenor Cinema opened its doors in Rayners Lane. Known as ‘the elephant trunk’ locally due to its unique design, the grand building seated 830 people in the stalls and 405 in the circle, with six dressing rooms and an old-style stage measuring 44 feet in depth.

The first film to grace the screen of the brand-new cinema would be The Country Doctor – the tale of a medic in a remote part of Quebec who finds himself faced with delivering quintuplets with little resources or support.

The reign of The Grosvenor would, however, be short-lived as the following May, the cinema was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatre Group.

During a period of turmoil following the Second World War, the theatre became The Gaumont in 1950 before reverting to The Odeon in 1964 – at which point the overall seating was reduced from 1235 to 1185.

The history of Ace Cinema in Rayners Lane Harrow Online
Zoroastrian Centre in Rayners Lane, North Harrow

Ace – from pictures to pitchers

The cinema’s final transformation came about in 1981 when the venue was renamed ‘The Ace Cinema’. During this time, the building was granted Grade II Listed Building status but the days of its silver screen would be numbered.

In 1986, the cinema closed and, shortly afterward began a new incarnation as the Grosvenor Cine / Bar Experience, with the auditorium being transformed into the Studio Warehouse Nightclub. Local night owls would continue to enjoy these facilities until the mid-1990s when the venue closed, leaving the building empty for a number of years.

From films to faith

Since 2000, the magnificent property at 440 Alexandra Avenue has been home to the Zoroastrian Centre – an Iranian religious group and one of the world’s oldest faiths which is based on the teachings of the Avesta and Zoroaster, an Iranian prophet. While the building may no longer enjoy the silver screen glamour of its past, its listed status means that we can still enjoy the building’s stunning facade for many years to come.

Read more articles about the history of Harrow, click here.