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Grand Palais


Although not much now remains to be seen, this building played its part in East End social life and deserves more attention than it has had.

It opened about 1911 as two multi-purpose halls, the King’s Hall at ground floor level and the Queen’s Hall below. The King’s was probably designed with future cinema use in view and it became the Cohen Moses Cinematograph Hall from 1914/15. The Queen’s Hall was mainly used for dances.

About 1926 the cinema became a Yiddish theatre, the Grand Palais, remaining in this principal use until 1961 with occasional benefit performances after this date. A music and dancing licence was retained until at least 1963. It was described as ‘public hall’ in official records, even during its period as an active theatre. By the 1970s it had become a thriving little Indian cinema then, following a period of neglect, it became a wholesale clothing store in 1981-82.

The Grand Palais is easily missed, embedded as it is in the middle of a uniform early twentieth century row of shops with a façade in machine-made bricks with stone dressings. The entrance doorway to the Grand Palais is still distinguished by an ornamental pedimented hood but the iron and glass canopy bearing the name, present in 1980, has gone (it is said to have been rescued from a skip by a resident of the Isle of Dogs) and a pedimental hump in the cornice crowning the façade has been removed with the rebuilding of the parapet in plain brickwork. The interior is now a perfectly plain space, all plaster ornament having been stripped, but the end balcony is still discernible in offices above the ground floor.

The Grand Palais needs to be distinguished from the Palaseum, specifically built as a Yiddish Theatre in 1912. This stood on the opposite side of the road at No 226 and was demolished in 1995 to make way for a car park.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1926 - 1970
Current state
Current use
Converted to other use (wholesale clothing depot, storage and offices)
133 Commercial Road, Stepney, London, Tower Hamlets, E1, England
Further details
Other names
New King's Hall & Queen's Hall , Cohen Moses Cinematograph Hall
  • 1911 Design/Construction: (architect unknown)
  • 1914 Owner/Management: Cohen Moses
  • 1926 - 1970 Use:
  • Listing
    Not listed
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -