Nairn’s London #22
THEN: The outside is any old cinema with a grandiose front and mean flanks. The foyer is like a cross between Strawberry Hill and the Soane Museum; for once the fantasy of films has been matched by fantasy in the cinema. To argue that it is plaster deep is like arguing that La Regle De Jeu is just a strip of celluloid. Ninety-nine cinemas may be a shoddy counterfeit and so may ninety-nine films: but this is the hundredth. Gothic arches are all around in the auditorium, dimly lit by reflections from the screen. When the lights go up there is Aladdin’s cave; and if you walk to the front for a choc-ice or orange squash and turn round suddenly, the view may literally make you gasp. Pinnacle after gilded pinnacle, to the back of the gallery: one of the sights of London. Miss the Tower of London, if you have to, but don’t miss this.
NOW: A short leg to Tooting that’s well worth the effort. The Granada is now a Gala Bingo, and the cinematic fittings have all but gone, replaced by fixed seating and one-armed bandits. But you only need glance beyond them and you can see what Nairn was talking about. Gothic intricacy everywhere you look – in an auditorium of this scale, it’s breathtaking. A brilliant Nairn’s to finish on.