Soho Theatre Walthamstow comes off the Theatres At Risk Register

architects’ illustration of completed project in 2024

Theatres Trust, the charity that campaigns to protect the UK’s theatres, has announced that it has removed the magnificent Grade II* listed building – reopening next year after extensive restoration work as Soho Theatre Walthamstow – from its Theatres at Risk Register.

The Theatres at Risk Register, which has been running for 17 years, calls attention to important theatre buildings, their challenges, and the cultural opportunities they bring to local communities.  Since the list began, more than 80 theatres have been restored, revived or rebuilt. Soho Theatre Walthamstow is one of only three buildings removed from the risk register this year. to which it was first added in 2015.

Built in 1930 by architect Cecil Masey with interior decoration by Theodore Komisarjevsky, the Walthamstow venue opened as the Granada, an opulent ciné-variety theatre. Thirty years later it embraced live music concerts in between film engagements, hosting scores of famous acts including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and The Ronettes. The Granada was given a Grade II Listing by English Heritage on 24th February 1987. The cinema then carried on through a number of changes of hands, including Virgin and ABC, before closed in 2003 as the EMD cinema, and the building was then bought by a group who planned to turn it into a church. The local community and Theatres Trust objected, on the grounds that the borough would lose its only working theatre and access to entertainment, the purpose for which the building was originally intended.

Local residents’ groups campaigned for the building to continue as an entertainment venue and in 2012 Waltham Forest Cinema Trust and Soho Theatre presented its vision of the building’s future to Waltham Forest Council. A decisive public planning inquiry ruled the following year in favour of the building continuing as an entertainment venue. After the church group sold the building a year later, part of it reopened as a bar, but the rest of the building, already in a terrible state from almost 20 years of neglect, fell into further disrepair.

It was added to the Theatres at Risk Register in 2015. Meanwhile Soho Theatre and Waltham Forest Council developed plans to acquire, restore and run the venue as an exciting new cultural hub – a local theatre with a national profile – and in 2019 the Council purchased the building with Soho Theatre on board to run the theatre.  Thanks to the support of Theatres Trust, in 2020 they awarded Soho Theatre a Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme grant which enabled them to business plan and continue to support the project.

Coming off the At Risk Register in 2023 marks another major milestone in the building’s rich and fascinating history, and is cause for celebration indeed!

Soho Theatre Walthamstow during renovation work in 2022

See Luke Rollason’s ode to The Great Indoors pre-Edinburgh show

Friday 8th July at 7.15pm is your last London chance to see Luke Rollason’s new show BOWERBIRD, at comedy’s favourite home, the Soho Theatre, presented here as part of the London Clown Festival.

Its pretty impressive Luke’s had time to write it, as he’s been so busy on Channel 4’s viral series The B@IT. He’s also the star of the upcoming Disney+ series EXTRAORDINARY.

BOWERBIRD is Luke’s absurd ode to the great indoors and the relationships we form with the objects we fill it with – the armchair singing the lost loves that left behind their bum imprints, abandoned utensils with uncertain parenthood, and the sordid spooning going on in your cutlery drawer.

Like visiting IKEA on acid, this is a psychedelic domestic breakdown that will make you totally rethink your domestic life.

The show will run approximately 60 minutes.

Find more information and book your tickets here

UPDATE: You can claim a discount on your tickets by quoting the code BigRedNose22


Discover the progress at Walthamstow Granada’s Open Day

On Thursday July 1st you are invited to find out about the progress that is being made with the Walthamstow Granada, the only surviving theatre in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

A couple of years ago, after a long history of neglect and decay, the historic cinema was purchased by the Council and set on a track to be brought back to life as a comedy/cabaret and mixed use entertainment space, run by the Soho Theatre, who have developed for themselves an enviable track record in mixed entertainment management.

As part of the E17 Art Trail 2021, visitors are invited to discuss the progress and prospects for this historic Grade II-listed venue.

Visitors are welcome between 5pm and 7pm at The Tramworks, Hatherley Mews, Walthamstow, E17 4QP.

Read more about the Soho Theatre’s management plans here


Development work finally begins on Walthamstow Granada

Walthamstow Granada cinema pictured in 1961. Photo courtesy London Borough of Waltham Forest

Restoration work has finally begun at Walthamstow’s historic Granada Cinema, which is being converted into a large comedy venue.

Waltham Forest Council gained planning permission in June for its £25million redevelopment project to transform the deteriorating Grade 2-listed building into a 1,000-seat comedy and entertainment venue – set to be run by Soho Theatre. The main auditorium has been derelict for well over a decade, although the foyer was more recently used as the MIRTH pub.

Full possession of the building – which the local authority earlier bought for £17m – was secured in August, and representatives from the council and Soho Theatre visited the Hoe Street site last month to tour the works in progress.

Developer Willmott Dixon Interiors is leading the restoration, aiming to create “a modern, nationally-recognised entertainment venue that honours its unique heritage”. The new venue will include the main theatre, bar and a restaurant, plus community space. It is projected that the local economic benefit could be as much as £50m over ten years once it opens in spring 2022- or perhaps later considering the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simon Miller, the council’s cabinet member for economic growth and housing development, said: “This is a key milestone in the regeneration of this beautiful building. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Soho Theatre to give this venue the future it deserves, and to bring an outstanding contribution to our borough’s vast cultural offer.”

“The development will also provide local jobs, opportunities and a welcoming community space. These, combined with growing visitor numbers, will provide huge economic benefits to our borough for years to come.”

Read more about the Walthamstow Granada here


Soho Theatre’s MR SWALLOW: HOUDINI

Who better to lift your spirits right now than the eccentric tour de force that is Mr. Swallow, a man willing to pay the ultimate homage to Houdini himself by recreating the master’s legendary underwater escape, live on stage!

Mr. Swallow is once again joined by his trusty assistants Mr. Goldsworth (David Elms) and Jonathan (Kieran Hodgson) as he charts his own imitable interpretation of Houdini’s life, fusing daredevil magic (his words), hilarious comedy (also his words) and a series of musical numbers that are, frankly, to die for (…yep).

Written, produced and starring Nick Mohammed, this archive recording from January 2017 captures the gentle but often absurd comedy of the characters during a six week sell-out run at the Soho Theatre, which I enjoyed very much when I attended.

The show’s availability has been extended until June 27th.

This production is being made available for a minimum donation of £4 which will go towards NHS and actors’ charities.

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