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Historic Art Deco cinema to be bulldozed to make way for a supermarket

Ian Harvey

One of London’s last standing Art Deco cinema structures is in the process of being demolished to make way for a Lidl.

Despite the fact that the 80-year-old building is very much loved by the local people, campaigners were, unfortunately, unable to rescue the Towers Cinema structure, which is located on Hornchurch High Street in east London.

Councilors in Havering have just approved the plans to bulldoze this iconic structure from the 1930s. Many parties, including a movie company, showed that they were interested in the building, but sadly they were too late to make a case.

The Towers originally opened in the year of 1935, and Odeon took over eight years later. It continued as a cinema up until the year of 1973, when it was converted into a bingo hall. In the year of 2010, it was purchased by Mecca.

Advocate Hayley Johnson said in an interview with the Metro said, “I started this Facebook page in July 2015 when Lidl’s plans came to light as well as requesting English Heritage to consider listing our Art Deco building, but sadly too many changes had occurred in the lobby area when it changed from a Cinema to a Bingo Hall.”

She started a petition on August 20th to give everyone another chance to create a case for the structure; it only got 353 signatures.

She also stated: “I, like the majority of our town feel disappointed and saddened by the Council’s decision, especially as Lidl are still yet to officially submit any new building plans but they already have the rights to destroy one of our last remaining pieces of history that Hornchurch has.”

A representative for Lidl made a statement to the Metro, “We are aware and understand the concerns raised by a number of local residents, and as a result plan to retain the “Towers” lettering and create a public art installation at street level, integrating a piece of the site’s past history within the new scheme and creating a focal interest on the frontage of the new store.”

The supermarket will be holding a conference day on Wednesday, August 31st, between 5 pm and 8 pm, and have invited approximately 10,000 of the Hornchurch residents to attend.

From our Art Deco files: The crumbling example of an Art Deco hotel, Lee Plaza in Detroit will be brought to life with a whooping $200 million renovation

The original architect of the building was Frank Ernest Bromige. A number of Bromige’s cinemas still survive, including the Grosvenor, in Rayners Lane, and the Safari.