2nd October, 2009



Cinema for Crystal Palace Campaign – a cast of thousands The Crystal Palace Community says NO to change of use 18,576 times

In June, when the people of Crystal Palace first learned that a cinema could not come here as planned because a church had bought the building, they were mortified. A cinema was what the town had always needed and they were angry that this chance had been snatched from them. They knew that the cinema was crucial to the future viability of the town and the welfare of the community and that it had to go in this building because it had been purpose built as a cinema and it had the proper planning use.

It quickly became apparent how important it was that the building retained its entertainment use and so the community swung into action to retain it. They started a Facebook group, they produced Tee Shirts and they facilitated a campaign which has grown so fast and gathered such support that even the organisers have had trouble keeping up with events.

Today was the culmination of four months of effort and events. This morning the campaign reached what can only be described as epic status. The setting was Bromley Civic Centre, the cast, six film loving members of the community and the action, very simple.; to hand over the fruit of weeks of local consultation. The costumes were as would be expected the campaigns’s own ‘Cinema’ Tee-shirts. They have now been seen sported by The Saturdays, Pixie Lott, Florence (of Florence and the Machine), Spike Jonze, VV Brown, Speech Dabelle and Paddy Considine.

The props were five boxes containing 6,680 petitions, 1,328 objections cards, 25 sealed letters, 145 pre-printed letters, 87 handwritten letters, 7 children’s letters, 115 signatures and comments of support from local traders, 4,732 on the online petition and 5,456 Facebook members. The action took place in the planning reception where the girls on duty were bemused by the level of opposition. As the receptionist said we usually get about 30 or 40 a day but this is crazy! Bromley Council is of course also receiving objections directly.

Andy Stem of the campaign said, cards and letters were still flooding in as we left to come here. It is astonishing. This is democracy at its best. Bromley can’t fail to see how much we want and need a cinema, let’s hope that this script can have the happy ending that the whole community is working so hard for.

Sue Nagle added ‘People have grown up around here and experienced the problems that occur when young people have nothing to entertain or occupy them. The community is rising up to make sure that future generations don’t have to go through the same thing.

I believe that every town should have its own cinema. It will be great for adults but it will be especially good for the youngsters. At a time when we are trying to lead children away from alcohol fuelled pastimes, we should offer them alternative entertainment. Film is a powerful medium. Sometimes a film or even one scene in a film can inspire and change lives.

So many people put their hopes in the boxes we delivered today. They deserve the right outcome.

Now we just have to wait.

At 3pm On October the 18th the campaign will hold a public meeting in the beautiful Balmoral Banqueting Suite of the Queens Hotel in Church Road, SE19 . Thanks to the generosity of the Queens Hotel, there will be no charge. Politicians, press, media and the Kingsway Church have been invited to see for themselves the strength of opposition to changing the use of the former Gala Building and the passion in the community for using the building for a cinema. There will be speakers, questions from the floor and of course an amazing film. The bar will be open. This event will be very popular and although the venue seats hundreds, you are advised to arrive early to be sure of admission.

Notes for Editors:

KICC and the Planning Process

KICC, a registered charity, and one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Europe, purchased the Gala Bingo hall at 25 Church Road, Upper Norwood in June 2009, without having first acquired the correct change of use.

Without consulting the local community, KICC has applied to Bromley council for planning permission to change the use of the building from bingo hall (D2) to church/community use (D1) together with ancillary offices, cafe and bookshop. If granted, this would cause the Crystal Palace Triangle district centre to lose its only major leisure facility and replicate existing activities for a community already well-served by local churches.

The planning application was lodged on 9 September and the consultation period ends on the 1st October. The application reference number is 09/02202/FULL1. Bromley council are aiming to determine the application by 9 December.

City Screen

City Screen’s cinemas include the Brixton Ritzy and Greenwich Picturehouse. They remain interested in restoring the building to cinema use. They have a proven track record in regenerating areas and programming films for all members of the community.

Picture Palace campaign team

The team is an association of local residents, traders and cinema supporters, who volunteer their time and expertise to help bring a cinema back to Crystal Palace.

The building

The Rialto cinema was purpose built in1928. It later became the Granada before being supplanted by a bingo hall in 1968.

Crystal Palace Triangle district centre

The Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace Triangle district centre sits on the edges of five London boroughs – Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. Most of the businesses are in Croydon or Lambeth, but one side of Church Road, including the former cinema, is located in Bromley.

Crystal Palace film history

The Crystal Palace was the home of the Motograph Film Company for a short period from 1913. It actually made films on the Palace’s football pitch including ‘The Cup Final Mystery’ which featured Chelham playing Blacton Villa. The plot involved Chelham’s goalkeeper being kidnapped – twice. On the second occasion he is strung up in the girders of the Crystal Palace.

Among films Motograph reputedly made in the Crystal Palace grounds were ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’ and ‘Big Game Hunting in the North Pole Icefields’. Before the start of the Second World War another studios opened in the Crystal Palace/Upper Norwood area off what is now the top end of Jasper Road but was then called Ranger Road. The budding film producer who wanted to make religious films was a certain J Arthur Rank.

The Palace also featured in a 1935 film starring Stanley Holloway. Denis Gifford in his ‘British Film Catalogue 1895 – 1985’ says Play Up the Band involves a Northern euphonium player framed for theft on a visit to a Crystal Palace band contest. The Huntley Film Archives website says it contains “excellent shots of both the inside and outside of the Crystal Palace”.

Ken Russell, who at one stage lived in Church Road, Upper Norwood made his first film at the then-derelict (and since demolished) Crystal Palace high level station. The film appears in the Huntley register as film 3523 but – like the Stanley Holloway film -is not named on it. The Huntley website says the comedy, made in black and white, involved a girl following a performance artist who had a dog with him which wore angels wings.

Finally, and perhaps most famously, one scene from The Italian Job starring Michael Caine was also shot in the Palace grounds. “I only told you to blow the bloody doors off….”


Campaign website: www.picture-palace.org

Facebook group: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=93895723250 On-line petition: www.petitiononline.com/acfcp

Comments from local residents: www.virtualnorwood.com/forum/index.php For further information please contact:

Annabel Sidney

e-mail: admin@picture-palace.org