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Mecca Bingo, Brent

Description: Mecca Bingo

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 10 October 1980
English Heritage Building ID: 198791

OS Grid Reference: TQ2504584032
OS Grid Coordinates: 525045, 184032
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5413, -0.1983

Location: 7 A4003, Brent, Greater London NW6 7HY

Locality: Brent
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: NW6 7HY

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Listing Text

935/10/18 Nos. 195-199 (Odd)
Mecca Bingo

(Formerly listed as:
Nos. 195-199 (Odd)
Gaumont State Cinema)


Former cinema, built in 1936- 7 for Gaumont Super Cinemas as the Gaumont State. Architect: George Coles FRIBA. Faience facade, the stock brick returns invisible because of the adjoining property. Roof not seen. A monumental auditorium set at right angles to the street, with large balcony, and reached via dramatic double-height foyer and staircase hall.
EXTERIOR: The High Road facade is a building of monumental proportions, crowned by a soaring tower. The facade lies back from the street to align with the buildings to either side and is in the Moderne style, symmetrical and clad in cream-coloured faience. Low flanking end turrets with pyramidal roofs. In the centre the tower rises in three stages, each stage separated by a cornice and parapet, surmounted by a pyramidal roof and finial. The faces of the two lower sections of the tower have triple glazing panels, while the attic has five small square windows on each face. The height of the tower is enhanced by the verticality of the glazed panels, which are divided by pilasters. The area at the foot of the tower is left blank ( originally for film publicity), while the space between the turrets and the tower is filled with fins of contrasting black faience. The street-front corners of the tower are supported by buttresses. Multiple sets of glazed entrance doors. The Willesden Lane frontage is also faience-clad with vertical windows over doors originally serving both as a separate entrance to the cinema restaurant and as emergency exits. The auditorium has various emergency exits and small windows for foyers, stairs, offices and lavatories.
INTERIOR: From a lobby panelled with green vitrolite, a second series of doors leads to a grand foyer, which is tripartite and three bays long, the central section having a deeply coved and coffered ceiling and separated from the side aisles by paired columns with gilded Corinthian capitals. Beyond, on the side walls, between pilasters, the bays contain tall arched apertures filled with blush-tinted glass and framed by black and white marble. The glazing is divided into small panels by bevels. The end wall is also treated as three bays, containing arches divided by similar style columns backed by pilasters. The tympana of the outer arches are filled with lunettes of honeycomb frieze. In each bay of the aisles hangs a chandelier with one large chandelier in the nave. Beyond the foyer is an elliptical rotunda stair hall. Twin flights ascend to a landing, with doors to the balcony foyer. Directly underneath the landing a wide aperture leads through to the stalls foyer. Stairs with half-landings. Stair balustrade of black and white variegated marble with column-on-vase balusters. The terminating newels support squat Art Deco lamps. Dark-stained timber panelled dado. In the upper half of the walls are a series of tall draped window apertures and pier glasses. Horizontal panels containing Rinceau ornament over the foyer archways and above the doors to the balcony. In the centre hangs a chandelier. Stalls foyer: to the right was a large waiting hall under a cafe at first floor level, to the left is the huge auditorium, dominated by the towering coved proscenium and a series of tall niches on the side walls, which cut into the ceiling coving. The ante-proscenium niches have Corinthian columns supporting an entablature and Serliana. Between the columns are plaster grills -behind the left-hand grills and the chambers for the Wurlitzer organ. Above the grills are areas of drapery. Lanterns are suspended from the niche arches. Ornamented and coved cornice. Ceiling decoration in the form of a circular feature with scrolling arabesque panels, with, in the centre, a saucer dome, on the inner side of which is an aperture for a' lime gallery'. Fully glazed light fittings are suspended from the centre of the saucer dome and from around the periphery. Over the rear part of the balcony is a long lighting cove with semi-circular ends. Dark stained timber panelled dado -below the rail is a frieze of Rinceau ornament. Large balcony with vomitories and embellished side entrances. Large balcony foyer with dark stained timber panelling. From this formerly opened a large restaurant, converted in later years into a secondary cinema, now closed. Curved balcony front with apertures for stage lights. Large stage, fifty feet deep, with fly-tower and a substantial block of dressing rooms beyond. In front of the proscenium, under the raised floor for the bingo, the orchestra pit platform could rise to stage level -this feature may be still in-situ. Standing on a low plinth to the left of the proscenium is the console for the Wurlitzer organ; this was originally located on a revolving elevator to the right of the proscenium.
ANAL YSIS: One of the largest and most impressive movie palaces ever constructed in Britain, the Gaumont State, Kilburn had the greatest audience capacity of any English cinema (4,004 seats). Both externally and internally, George Coles brilliantly orchestrated the decoration and space -the latter demonstrated by the subtle planning of the route between the main entrance and the auditorium achieved by placing a rotunda midway along the axis. The main auditorium became a bingo club from the early 1980s. The building has also survived little altered by its adaptation.
SOURCES: Dennis Sharp, The Picture Palace, Hugh Evelyn, London 1969, pages 120, 122 and 215.
David Atwell, Cathedrals of the Movies, Architectural Press, London 1980, pages 97-99, 105 and 184.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England -London 3: North West, Penguin Books, London 1991, pages 134-5.
Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain, Lund Humphries, London 1996, pages 34,63,89-90 and 135. Allen Eyles, Gaumont British Cinemas, Cinema Theatre Association, Burgess Hill, 1996, pages 102-104 and 209.

Listing NGR: TQ2504584032

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.