Report - The Astoria / Gala Bingo, Brighton, Sussex, June 2011

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Having a blonde moment
28DL Full Member
Jan 2, 2011
South East
Visited with Catullus.
I've been walking/driving past this place for the last 13 years, so it was about time I took a look inside.
Luckily we found the main power switch, and so all the lights came on.
We had a comedy moment on the roof watching 2 guys on a nearby roof (who'd locked themselves out and were stuck on the roof) attempting to get back into their flat.

History from

The Grade II Listed Brighton Astoria was built by Griggs & Son Ltd. for E. E. Lyons and designed by Edward Albert Stone, who also deisigned the Astorias in Brixton, Streatham, Finsbury Park, Charing Cross Road, and the Old Kent Road in London. The Theatre was built as a Super Cinema with an Art Deco auditorium decorated by Henri & Laverdet, capable of seating 1,823 people, a Tea Room and Restaurant, and full stage facilities.

The Astoria opened on Thursday the 21st of December 1933 with a special programme including the National Anthem, speeches by Sir Cooper Rawson M.P., and the Mayor of Brighton; Margaret Hardy M.B.E., a showing of the Movietone News' 'Current Events', T. Guy Hindell playing an Overture on the Theatre's own Compton 3 manual Organ, a showing of 'Interesting Items' by Pathe Pictorial, Walt Disney's 'Santa's Workshop', and the main feature which was Charles Laughton in 'The Private Life of Henry VIII.'

Although built as a Super Cinema with stage facilities the Theatre's stage was in fact rarely used and in 1958 it was closed off completely when renovations to the building included erecting a 70mm screen in front of the proscenium. The Theatre's Compton Organ was also removed at this time, and the auditorium was mostly hidden by curtains. Also the Balcony stepping was altered and a new projection box was installed at the rear of of the balcony.

The Astoria then went on to be a successful Cinema for many years until the 7th of May 1977 when it closed after the last showing of Barbra Streisand's 'A Star is Born.'

After the Astoria closed for Cinema use it was then converted for Bingo. This continued until 1996 when even Bingo ended and the building was closed and boarded up, and so it has remained for many years.

Having been sold for a substantial sum recently the current owners have put in planning applications to demolish the building but the Theatres Trust, and the Cinema Theatre Association have strongly opposed any demolition of this Grade II Listed Theatre.