Saturday, 15 December 2018


1968 was a bit of a vintage year in terms of cinema. Movies released that year include: 2001 A Space Odyssey, Rosemary's Baby, Oliver, The Odd Couple, Where Eagles Dare, The Lion in Winter, and not forgetting, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Some of those titles may well have been among the last films to have been screened at 25 Church Road, and this might have remained the case, if it wasn't for the determination of a group of locals who have campaigned tirelessly for a decade or more to bring a cinema back to The Triangle.
After several decades as a Bingo venue, all seemed lost when Kingsway International Christian Centre bought the building, with the hope of turning it into a church. Various other potential sites for a new cinema were mooted, including in the proposed, but still never built development at Victory Place. However, after failing to get 'change of use' permission from the council, to turn the cinema building into a church, Kingsway eventually decided to sell the building at the beginning of this year. The news that Everyman had bought the building, was greeted ecstatically, and in no time at all, the building had been transformed, and opened to the public on November 14th, only three days after manager, Joe Kelly got the keys from the contractor.

Just a few years after this building was built, and on the other side of London, the original Everyman Cinema opened its doors in Hampstead in 1936. Known from the start as a venue screening non mainstream movies, it became a cultural beacon, but often flirted with financial disaster. Around the millennium, it was saved from bankruptcy by Daniel Brock and Paul Wise, who revived the brand, and opened a string of new cinemas, as well as buying several existing cinemas such as Islington's Screen on the Green, and her sister screens on Baker Street and Belsize Park. The chain has become known not only for its wide range of films on offer, but also for its beautiful interiors, its double seats, and for the food and drink available, which can be ordered and delivered straight to your seat. On entering, the first thing you see is the Art Deco styled bar, which I've already frequented, and which also doubles as the box office. 
There was some concern locally that the process of converting a single auditorium into a 4 screen venue, might mean the loss of its grand period features, but the results, created by designers and architects at Fusion, have been rapturously received. The impressive double height proscenium and curved gallery perimeter have been retained, and if anything made more impressive in the 147 seat, screen 2. While the three smaller screens are every bit as sumptuous, each featuring different colour schemes. My favourite has to be screen 3 with its tropical green House of Hackney velvet seating , and Peter Sellers & Elke Sommer, casting a discreet eye on proceedings from the back of the room. All in all they have succeeded in injecting a large shot of glamour to the neighbourhood. At the opening party I overheard someone enthusiastically exclaiming that he half expected to walk out of the cinema and find himself on Shaftesbury Avenue.
As well as being a huge boost to the fortunes of Church Road, and Crystal Palace in general, Joe tells me that the cinema has also created 42 jobs. The staff appear to be brimming with enthusiasm, and proud of where they work, and it's a tradition of the company, that on your first day, you serve the ice creams at the front of the auditorium, introducing yourself to the audience as you do so. Joe's own debut back in 2015 at the Oxted branch of Everyman was at a showing of 50 Shades of Grey. Introducing himself to the largely female audience may have been a nerve wracking experience, but it clearly got him off to a flying start. From part-time newbie, who wasn't sure if it was anything more than a temporary career move, he advanced in a matter of months to the position of Assistant Manager, and then Manager, overseeing a major refurbishment to that cinema. In March of this year, he was asked if he was interested in taking on the soon to be opened venue in Crystal Palace. After initial reservations, he had a change of heart after being blown away by his visit to the building site on Church Road. He's also been impressed by the locals, and their long story of commitment to getting the cinema re-opened, and with how they have embraced it since it opened. The opening weekend was biggest grossing weekend of any branch of Everyman ever! Links to the community are already being forged, with next year's Crystal Palace International Film Festival due to hold screenings at the venue, as well as private screenings for local groups. Joe has also been reaching out to local primary schools. In a scheme to encourage good school attendance, where pupils are offered free films and popcorn!
It feels like Christmas has come to The Triangle, and this Christmas Eve, as well as the usual blockbusters, there will be a special screening of that old classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Oh the magic of cinema!






Manager, Joe Kelly

25 Church Road
0872 4369060

And finally, a huge round of applause to these wonderful folk who helped bring the cinema back to The Triangle! 
Front row, from left: Kellie Gillespie Wright, Ian Wright, Andrew Parfitt, Sarah Hamilton, Andy Quinn, Andy Stem, Jerry Green, Karen Deadfield, Chris Chandler.
Middle row, from left: Neill Roy (of Crystal Palace International Film Festival), Rachel D'Cruz, James Lightfoot, Grace Lightfoot, Mark Dunford, Karen Tempia, Martin Tempia (behind Andy's head - sorry Martin!)
Back row, Annabel Sidney

Tuesday, 25 September 2018


28-30 Church Road has already featured twice on this blog; first as part of Bambino's, and then as Boyce de Roca, a cafe which occupied the premises for a couple of years. Then in July 2017, Joe Hirschhorn opened his eponymous bar. With its eclectic decor, it certainly doesn't feel like your average bar, and it has always been Joe's intention to do something unique, rather than following the herd with an identikit watering hole. The collection of Victorian Staffordshire figurines housed in the beautiful display cabinets, is a nod to their charismatic owner's former career as an antique dealer. Days he remembers fondly as a very creative time, when he was based at the Gasworks in Fulham. Furniture design is another of Joe's skills, with the chairs and tables having been designed by him. They're intended to be communally shared, and moved around to suit whatever's going on in the venue. The circular drum-like stools also have a removable lid for customers' coats and bags. Along another wall is a record collection and decks. There's no playlist, and customers are encouraged to choose the music, which makes it feel like you're in your own living room.
Calling this place a bar, wouldn't do it justice, it seems to offer so much more. Joe prefers drinks cafe, rather than pub or cocktail bar, but it's also an intimate little venue for a fascinating array of unusual music, cabaret, poetry, cinema, and DJs. Recent performances have included the award winning Celia Quartet, Kate Gilbert's intriguingly named Lost & Found Cabaret, Viola da Gamba player and teacher at the Royal College of Music, Reiko Ichise, and even something called Brexit - The Gameshow! 
And I haven't even mentioned the food and drink yet. The menu consists of exceptionally good tapas, but it's the drinks that have already become legendary locally, and once on the subject, Joe is clearly animated and extremely knowledgable. When opening the bar, he felt strongly that while London is incredibly innovative when it comes to food, drinks are often run of the mill standard offerings, and he was determined to do things differently. With particular focus on spirits, the drinks cafe is a place where everything except the alcohol is actually made on the premises. So a range of tonics using cinchona, are all steeped for 24 hours in fruits and spices behind the bar. And home made cola is made with coriander, star anise, ginger and orange. The very stylish drinks are served with reusable glass straws, and in winter some are even served hot, which is a revelation.
After learning much from Joe about the history of gin, we went on to local history, and how, when the Crystal Palace arrived on a rural local hillside in the 1850s, the area immediately became the centre of the universe, with the world flocking to the ground breaking building to discover all the very latest in Victorian invention and technology. He feels lucky to be living and working in an area with such a rich legacy, and is hopeful that the Phoenix suburb's time is coming again.

Gin with Andalusian Tonic steeped in hibiscus, rose, orange, apple, and elderberry, with rose petals sprinkled on top

Joe Hirschhorn