Genesis Cinema London

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Genesis Cinema venue information

The Genesis cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 stands on a site used for entertainment purposes for over 150 years.

The first building on the site opened about 1848 as the Eagle public house, a pub cum music hall. This gave way to Lusby's Summer and Winter Garden which was later renamed Lusby's Music Hall.

Lusby's was destroyed by fire in 1884 and its proprietors, Messrs Crowder & Payne, who had owned the theatre since 1878, hired the architect Frank Matcham to design a replacement theatre which was to be called the Paragon Theatre of Varieties.


Paragon, Mile End Road (1904)
Photo by Kevin Wheelan

When the Paragon opened in May 1885, it was advertised as "the best ventilated theatre in London". The air in theatres of the time was stale and unhealthy due to overcrowding, poor ventilation and gas-lamp fumes. Frank Matcham installed an improved air extraction system above the central chandelier and positioned air-intake vents six feet above the ground level. The design was so successful that Matcham became the most popular architect of his time, and he was later responsible for such theatres as the Victoria Palace, the London Palladium, the London Coliseum, the Richmond Theatre and Hackney Empire. Today Matcham is generally regarded as the finest theatre architect of his era.

The top half of the Paragon's frontage was covered with faience tiling. Below this was a balcony carried on modelled trusses and three arched entrance ways. The right-hand entrance lead to the pit and balcony. The central one gave access to the "Paragon Drive" which was situated beneath the main entrance and used as a public house bar.

The entrance on the left-hand side was for patrons using promenade, stalls and boxes. Access to the balcony was via a separate entrance in Eagle Place. There was a large crush room and conservatory at the end of the entrance foyer.

Passing through these, patrons entered the promenade which surrounded the auditorium and afforded a good view of the stage as it was slightly higher than the seats.


The Empire (1938)
Photo by Kevin Wheelan

The stage and auditorium were united by oriental arches draped in red velvet. The Paragon's beautiful and costly drop-curtain was painted by Mr. Charles Brooke; interior decoration was by the Framemaker's Gilders' and Decorators' Association, the overall colour scheme being cream and pale blue with gold relief. The auditorium accommodated about 1,500 people and was 60ft high, 100ft wide and 100ft long, the entire site covering about an acre. Prices of admission were gallery 4d, balcony 6d, promenade 1 -, stalls 1 6d fauteuils 2 6d, and boxes 10 6d and 1 1s 0d. By 1894 admission prices were from 6d to 2 2s 0d.

Numerous stars appeared at the Paragon including Harry Champion in 1884, Little Tich in 1902, Gertie Gitana in 1909 and Charlie Chaplin who appeared in Fred Karno's "Mumming Birds" before he achieved world wide fame in Hollywood.

In 1912 the theatre was renamed the Mile End Empire. By this time music hall was in decline and the building was being used as a cinema. By 1921 the Empire was owned by A. Goide & Partners who operated several East London cinemas.

In 1928 the newly-formed United Picture Theatre circuit (U.P.T.) purchased the Empire. The U.P.T. circuit comprised eight other cinemas including the Rivoli, Whitechapel. In 1934 U.P.T. went into receivership and the Empire was purchased by the fast expanding ABC circuit.

Venue contact details and info

Name: Genesis Cinema

Address: 93-95 Mile End Road City of London, London, Greater London E1 4UJ , London, E1 4uj

Phone: 020 7780 2000

Venue short url: https://www.skiddle.com/venues/34282/

Type of venue: Theatre

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