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LETTERS: Concerts at old cinema would give Essex Road a cultural boost

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Former Carlton cinema has one of the finest neo-Pharaonic facades in London

Former Carlton cinema has one of the finest neo-Pharaonic facades in London

Published: 20 January, 2017

• I AM pleased to hear that the owners of the old Carlton/ABC cinema in Essex Road, which has been used for religious services a few times a week since reopening a couple of years ago, have come up with a proposal to organise other events there, including conferences, concerts and film shows.

Some residents oppose the proposal on the grounds that events would attract extra traffic, long queues and, most improbably of all, extra security to deal with “high-profile artists”. While it is entirely proper that the planning process should consider the views of residents, it would be wrong to overlook the benefits that the plans would have for the area.

The Carlton cinema has one of the finest neo-Pharaonic facades in London, along with the Carreras cigarette factory in Camden, Hend House in Shaftesbury Avenue, the houses in Richmond Crescent, Barnsbury, Lloyds Bank in Putney High Street and others. The interior is in grand French Renaissance style.

It was a stylish venue when it was opened in 1930 by Prince Arthur of Connaught. Unless the cinema has a function that is commercially viable it will deteriorate and will eventually be demolished, no doubt to be replaced by more shops or luxury flats.

Essex Road is already a busy commercial street with many bars, restaurants and retailers. But it has no cultural venues of any kind, not even one of the many theatre-pubs that other parts of Islington have. 

Upper Street has the Screen on the Green, the King’s Head and the Almeida Theatre, none of which generate large crowds or traffic congestion. In London, few people would come to Essex Road by private car and there is plentiful public transport.

London’s economy depends on the service sector; cultural activities are an important component of that. The Green Party recognises that the creative industries sector is growing significantly. As we move towards a sustainable society we anticipate an increased role for artists and artistic activities.

I would urge people who live close to the Carlton/ABC cinema to look at the positive benefits the building can bring to the area, especially in the form of jobs for creative and active young people and in the form of entertain­ment and cultural enrichment for everyone.

Islington Green Party



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