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Description: Top Rank Club
Date Listed: 26 March 1990
English Heritage Building ID: 201536
OS Grid Reference: TQ3100090285
OS Grid Coordinates: 531000, 190285
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5962, -0.1101
TQ3090 and TQ3190 BROADWAY
800/14/286 Top Rank Club
' / Alternatively known as: GAUMONT CINEMA, BROADWAY.
Former cinema, built in 1933-34 by the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation in collaboration with a satellite company, Associated Provincial Picture Houses. Architect: William Edward Trent (1874-1948) and Ernest F. Tulley.
Constructed with a steel frame, brick clad with some internal blockwork. Symmetrical Moderne entrance facade combining artificial stone with brick. Auditorium in stock brick, with roof visible and tall stage fly tower. Roof of foyer block not seen. Large auditorium with balcony and stage, set behind complex foyers in double-height entrance hall.
EXTERIOR: The four sets of original entrance doors are approached by five steps. Flanking are two more doors, the one to the right being an exit while the left-hand one formerly accessed the cafe above the foyer. Over the cantilevered canopy are long windows on two levels divided into three sections by broad convex mullions with original glazing bars. The cafe, most recently let as a banqueting hall, was situated on the second level. Above the windows is an area of artificial stone (it formerly held moveable lettering advertising the film programmes). The composition is surrounded by an artificial stone frame terminating in squared volutes. At the top are two horizontal mouldings carrying the name of the cinema. There are two window apertures in the brick area at second floor level. Beyond the foyer block the auditorium runs at right angles parallel to the street.
INTERIOR: Ground and first floor foyers in streamlined Moderne style, having convex and concave mouldings running along the walls and ceilings, incorporating light fittings in the ceiling ribs. This is particularly pronounced in the inner foyer. Pier glasses substitute as pilasters, below which are Moderne radiator grills. The rising ground necessitates a series of short flights of stairs to reach the main floor of the auditorium. Streamlined balustrades with brass handrails. At the far end of the inner foyer, broad stairs rise to the balcony level, halting at a landing where flights reverse in Imperial form, which previously provided access to the cafe ( connection now blocked). The main balcony stairs are flanked by subsidiary flight to the stalls. Above all, is a coved cornice with original sans serif lettering: STALLS CIRCLE STALLS, surmounted by Moderne ventilation grilles. Large double-height rusticated streamlined Moderne auditorium. Semi-circular arched proscenium. Large arched niches on the curving ante-proscenium containing recessed mouldings surrounding slender features enclosing roundels with Egyptian-style motifs. One the side walls are cigar-shaped niches bound by paired mouldings and containing original globe light fittings surmounted by chromium Egyptian motifs comprising superimposed sun disks with lyriform horns. Stepped and curved cornicing, with grills over the proscenium. Large balcony. Ceiling with a cigar-shaped moulding containing recessed roundels. Deep stage with fly-tower and dressing rooms. It is possible that Frank Barnes's painted scene representing the signs of the zodiac may still survive on the safety iron in the fly-tower. Cafe to front (operated separately in 2000) retains original ceiling and cornice detailing.
ANALYSIS: A lavish super cinema of the 19305 combining Moderne, Egyptianising and Expressionist elements in its decoration -the latter probably derived from the interior of the Titania Palast cinema in Berlin of 1928 by Schoffler, Schlonbach and jacobi. Possibly the most successful of the surviving Gaumont schemes by Trent and Tulley. From 1984 to 1996 the cinema was in use as a bingo club.
Richard Gray, Cinemas in Britain, Lund Humphries Publishers, London, 1996, pages 81,88-89, 135.
Allen Eyles, Gaumont British Cinemas, Cinema Theatre Association, Burgess Hill, 1996, pages 62-64 and 222.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England -London 4: North, Penguin Books, London, 1998, page 594.
Listing NGR: TQ3100090285
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.