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Feb 27

The Gaumont State Cinema

gaumontstateDesigned by George Coles and opened in 1937, the Gaumont State was one of the biggest auditoria in Europe, with seating for 4004 people.

The name “State” is said to come from the 37 metre tower, inspired by the Empire State Building in New York City. It can be seen for miles around, and bears the name “STATE” in large red neon letters.

The Gaumont State’s American Deco-inspired exterior, covered in cream ceramic tiles, is a sharp contrast to its green Italian Renaissance interior.

The interior was designed in the opulent style of cinemas of the day, and includes a Wurlitzer organ which is today one of the largest fully functioning Wurlitzer organs in Britain. It is also one of the few cinema organs remaining in their original locations.

The Gaumont State Theatre was opened by Gaumont Super Cinemas on 20 December 1937 with an ‘All Star Variety Show’ on stage, with stars appearing including Gracie Fields, Larry Adler, George Formby and Henry Hall & his Band and the opening was broadcast live on the BBC radio. The variety show had a five days run, then the Gaumont State Theatre showed its first film programme; Shirley Temple in “Wee Willie Winkie” and Jed Prouty in “Big Business” plus a stage show from 27th December 1937.

After that, the Gaumont State was also one of the most popular music venues in London and hosted a number of historic performances.

The main auditorium cinema closed on 18 September 1980 and the second screen closed on 10 October 1981. Bingo continued in the former sectioned off, rear stalls seating section. Soon afterwards, the main floor was leveled off and Top Rank Bingo became the attraction in the entire auditorium when the drop wall was taken down.

The second screen located in the former restaurant re-opened in December 1985 as the Odeon Kilburn and this was closed on 14 June 1990, remaining shuttered ever since. The Top Rank Bingo Club later became Mecca Bingo Club and operated until 2007.

The bingo was closed and acquired by Ruach Ministries, a religious organisation.

See the Gaumont State on a map of Kilburn.

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