As a small child, no trip into central London would be complete without a visit to what for me at the time was the most magical place on earth, the Victoria Station Cartoon Cinema.
I have many fond memories of sitting in the slightly dilapidated and grubby seats, a haze of cigarette smoke billowing all around, eating jam sandwiches and watching my cartoon favourites. (I’m not sure why jam sandwiches were involved, we’re talking about a time before fast food, so perhaps we took our own with us)
The cinema was located adjacent to Platform 19 on the Buckingham Palace Road side of Victoria Railway Station. It opened on the 12th September 1933 as The Victoria Station News Theatre operated by the Classic Cinemas chain. It sat above the concourse of the station with a small but highly Art Deco styled entrance, box office and staircase at ground floor level leading to the 1st floor auditorium. I’d like to say I can remember the interior as being Art Deco as well, but it was always so dark inside, I have no recollection of the decor but the image below shows how it looked in the 1930s.
The Victoria Station News Theatre was one of several small newsreel theatres in London and in later years showed continuous 1-hour programmes of newsreels, cartoons and adverts. One major drawback was that it had no toilets of its own, so patrons had to trek down the stairs, leave the cinema and walk to the public toilets on the railway station concourse. I remember always being strongly urged to “Go” before we entered.
During the 60s and 70s many more homes were able to afford to rent or sometimes buy their own televisions and the Newsreel became a less sought after commodity, which is when the cinema switched to just cartoons. The final showing was on the 27th August 1981 with the Walt Disney short cartoon “The Hound That Thought He Was a Racoon” and an edition of Movietone News featuring the 1937 Coronation, sadly it was later demolished.
As far as I can work out the cinema stretched from the red framed shutter to around the green shop sign.