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Woolwich Grand Theatre


Considering the size of its employed population and the substantial army presence, Woolwich was surprisingly late in acquiring a large theatre to rival the ageing Royal and the quasi-theatrical concert room (later reconstructed as a theatre) in the Royal Artillery barracks. There was a proposal, before the turn of the century, for a Grand Theatre in Moorish style in Beresford Square by Frank Matcham, but this was never built.

Crewe's Grand Theatre and Opera House, opened by Sir Henry Irving in 1900, was a little apart from the busiest area of town, on a site adjoining the Town Hall. It presented drama, musical comedy, opera and, later, variety. By 1923 it had become a cinema with a Compton organ installed. Taken over by ABC in 1935, it was closed in 1939 and demolished for the building of a new cinema, but this was not completed (as the Regal) until 1955.

The Crewe theatre had a broad front in brick with stone dressings; five major bays (2+2+3+2+2) the centre and outer bays being three storeys with tall iron-crested pavilion roofs, the intermediate bays a storey lower with pitched roofs behind parapets. The central entrance was approached by a flight of steps. Busts of dramatists at high level. No illustrations of the interior have yet been located.

Although construction commenced, war prevented the W R Glen designed ABC from being completed. As a shell, it was requisitioned for storage. In 1955, it was completed to re-designed plans of C J Foster. Closed in 1982, it was purchased by the Borough of Greenwich who planned to re-open it as a live theatre. However, it was eventually leased and opened as a nightclub in 1985.

Nightclub use ceased due to loss of licence, and the building was sold to a private developer. From 2011 it was leased to a community group (Woolwich Grand Theatre Ltd.) which ran the Grand as a cinema, theatre and music venue. In 2014 planning permission was granted for the theatre’s demolition and redevelopment. The theatre closed on 10 April 2015, and was demolished later that year.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1900 - 1923: Theatre
  • 1955 - 1982: as cinema
  • 1985 - 2010: leased and used as nightclub.
  • 2011 - 2015: Theatre
Current state
Current use
38 Wellington Street, Woolwich, London, Greenwich, SE18 6PE, England
Further details
Other names
Woolwich Hippodrome , Grand Theatre & Opera House , Regal Cinema , Flamingos , ABC
  • 1900 Design/Construction:
    Messrs W Johnson & Co
    - Contractor
    Bertie Crewe
    - Architect
  • 1900 Owner/Management: Clarence Sounes
  • 1900 - 1923 Use: Theatre
  • 1908 Owner/Management: Walter Gibbons
  • 1913 Owner/Management: Charles Gulliver
  • 1923 Owner/Management: United Picture Theatres
  • 1935 Owner/Management: ABC
  • 1939 Demolition: for new cinema (Regal - not built until 1955).
  • 1955 Design/Construction: as Regal Cinema - Glen's plans re-designed by Foster.
    C J Foster
    - Architect
    W R Glen
    - Architect
  • 1955 - 1982 Use: as cinema
  • 1982 Owner/Management: purchased by London Borough of Greenwich for conversion to live theatre.
  • 1985 - 2010 Use: leased and used as nightclub.
  • 2011 Owner/Management: private developer, owner
  • 2011 - 2015 Use: Theatre
  • 2015 Demolition:
  • Capacity
  • Listing
    Not listed
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -