Leading heritage organisations back urgent calls to save 1920s West End cinema

The building's elegant front on Haymarket (left) and the main foyer (right). Photos by Ian Grundy. 


26 June 2018

In a letter published today in The Times, five national heritage organisations are backing our calls to save the Empire Cinema on Haymarket from demolition.

This historic 1927 building, formerly the Carlton Cinema, has beautiful largely intact interiors. It is owned by the Crown Estate and under threat from an application for immunity from listing. It is the last remaining grand palace cinema in the West End still in use as a cinema and theatre.  

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage, says: "These beautiful, lavish 1920s interiors would be the envy of any entertainment venue in England - let alone London. The Crown Estate has a unique opportunity to promote a world class venue with a fantastic history. We appeal to them to re-think their plans and save this very special building."

The text of the letter published today reads:

Empire - Letter in The Times

Note to Editors
1. For additional images and information please contact SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or by email office@savebritainsheritage.org 
2. A decision by the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, on the application for a Certificate of Immunity from listing is expected imminently. COIs are valid for 5 years during which time no other listing applications for the site will be considered. For more details about the cinema, see our previous press release .

3. The Empire, originally named the Carlton, was designed by Frank T. Verity in 1926, in partnership with Samuel Beverley.  Frank's father Thomas is famous as the architect of many of London’s best loved Victorian and Edwardian theatres. Verity Jr. was an outstanding designer of theatres and cinemas in his own right. Verity Jr served as The Crown Estate’s theatre and cinema consultant at the very time when the Commissioners were rebuilding prime sites along the Haymarket and Regent Street to a new grand scale. Verity was also the architect of the cinemas in Buckingham Palace and Clarence House (listed as part of these buildings).    

4. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment. 

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage
70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ
Registered Charity 269129
Tel. 020 7253 3500   Email office@savebritainsheritage.org