We lost all the cinemas, but I think we found one.
You settle into the comfy red seat, waiting patiently as the lights dim and darkness takes over until the huge screen in front of you fills with light and colour whilst music and sounds surround you. You aren’t alone either; the rest of the auditorium is full of people sharing this experience with you, anticipating the next couple of hours with excitement.
Lewisham had no cinema.
It was one of only two London boroughs without one, the other having been Waltham Forest, now with a cinema of it’s own too!
The strange thing is that Lewisham has an illustrious history and relationship with cinema. In the 1930s, over twenty venues in the Borough were showing film. Lewisham can also boast its celluloid pedigree with Jude Law, Gary Oldman and Big Mo from Eastenders (Gary Oldman’s sister)!
So where is the local cinema and where did the old ones go?
lewishamlostcinemas.wordpress.com charts all of the borough’s old cinemas. It’s easy to see that in the past the residents were spoilt for choice. Take the Prince of Wales Cinema, previously on Lewisham High Road: it was the first in the borough to install the technology to screen ‘talkies’ and in June 1929 screened Al Jolson’s The Singing Fool. The cinema was designed by John Stanley Coombe Beard who during his career designed over 20 London theatres and cinemas. It was closed in 1959, demolished and replaced with some shops.
Lewisham needs cinema.
Deptford Cinema is a project designed to provide this with the ongoing development of a venue for film on Deptford Broadway, coincidently opposite the site of the old Deptford Odeon, demolished in 1988.
Deptford Cinema is being built by the community for the community, as a 40 seat cinema with a darkroom, studio and café/bar. Screening a diverse range of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to short films by local filmmakers and everything in between. The programming of events and films is open to anybody in the community to show the films they want, and thereby become a hub for all things film in Lewisham.
The cost of a cinema ticket today can be upwards of £10; it is increasingly no longer a viable night out. Cinema should be for everybody and that’s the ethos of Deptford Cinema: it provided affordable tickets and even more affordable concession tickets to allow everybody to experience film from the stalls.
There is already a large community contingent that are mucking in to help bring the cinema’s full existence that much closer but we still need help. If you want to be part of the birth of a cinema then come along to one of our public meetings, every Sunday at 4pm at the future site of the cinema: 39 Deptford Broadway, Lewisham, SE8 4PQ.