Hi, I am doing a project on the old Elephant and Castle Theatre that stood on The New Kent Road where the Coronet Cinema now stands. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers it in any of its incarnations either as theatre or cinema, or if anyone knows anything about it that would be great too. Many Thanks, Sam.
Even I'm not old enough to remember it in the 1800s but I used to go to Saturday morning pictures there when it was a cinema (mid to late 1960s). It was an ABC cinema - the Odeon was opposite on what is now Metro Central Heights. We used to queue for what seemed like hours and were encouraged to sing the following song while we waited:
We are the boys and girls well known as
minors of the ABC
And every Saturday all line up
to see the films we like, and shout aloud with glee.
We like to laugh and have our sing-song
just a happy crowd are we.
We're all pals together;
we're minors of the ABC.'
GOD I'm OLD
No matter how I struggle and strive, I'll never get out of this world alive. - Little Willys
To Sam Reid
I would be pleased to offer some information to help your reserach project. The Elephant & Castle Theatre is one of the entertainment venues that falls within the (forthcoming book) on the History of Southwark's Theatres & Cinemas. I have many interseting illustrations, photos and plans of this building. Originally it was conceived as a scheme for a public hall with associated facillies, it was halted just after building work commenced and the site taken over to develope the Theatre Royal opening in 1872. It was destroyed by fire in 1878 (damage also being caused to the overhead platform of the adjacent station). The replacement theatre known as the Elephant and Castle Theatre, was designed by architect J. Robinson who died before its completion. His son-in-law Frank Matcham took over the project to complete it. This was the first theatre work of the Frank Matcham who was to become a notable specialist architect in this field. Unfortunally, the public taste for live theatre and variety gradually changed and the building was reconstucted to the plans of W.R. Glen the house architect for ABC. It would have been impossible to surive without modernisation as the Trocadero with 3,400 seats, London's largest purpose-built super Theatre-Cinema was about to be constructed opposite, and opened in 1930. As a new cinema, it retained its name of Theatre Royal, Elephant & Castle and opened in 1931. It was renamed ABC Elephant & Castle in 1967 and was tripled (3 screens) in 1981. From hereon most readers will identify the cinema when it was taken over briefly by Cannon and Coronet. In the last few years it had a very large investment to completely gut and remodel the interior to adapt it to a multi-purpose performance 'venue' still retaining the title CORONET.
(There is lots more history available from our extensive reserach work)
SAM please email me on 'SouthwarkStage@aol.com' if you wish to obtain further historic information.