Colin Grainger

Number is up for venue that hosted The Beatles and Rolling Stones

One of  Newham’s most iconic buildings, where The Beatles and the Rolling Stones performed, is to close next month…but is expected to get a new lease of life as a banqueting suite.

The Gala Bingo in Barking Road, East Ham, will hold its last bingo session on November 13.

The site originally housed the old East Ham Empire Kinema from 1914 which was demolished to build a new Granada Theatre in the 1930s.

It was going to be a new cinema for the Denman circuit, part of Gaumont British, who had operated the Empire Kinema, but Granada Theatres were also interested in the site and a deal was struck for them to operate the new cinema which was designed by Gaumont’s house architect William E. Trent and the land was owned by Gaumont for many years.


It was the fourth largest Granada Theatre to open and was fully equipped to stage shows as well as films. It opened in November 1936 with Sydney Howard in Fame and Al Jolson in The Singing Kid.

It was closed after bomb damage in July 1944, but re-opened again just three months later.

The eighth date of The Beatles’ Autumn Tour took place at the Granada Cinema in November 1963.

Prior to the concert, George Martin gave The Beatles news from EMI that their forthcoming single, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, was likely to have more than one million advance sales ahead of its release.

The scenes outside the venue were so chaotic that, when The Beatles requested food, the deliveryman had to be accompanied by a police escort to make it through the crowds of fans.

This was the second time The Beatles played at the Granada. The first had taken place on in March 1963 the first date of the group’s second theatre tour of the UK.

The Rolling Stones played at the Granada, East Ham at the foot of the bill in October 1963, with Little Richard headlining but by their next gig there in May 1964, they were top of the bill.

The building was fully acquired by Granada in March 1965.

Among many others to have performed at the venue are The Kinks, Plaistow’s Joe Brown and his group, The Bruvvers, David Essex, The Four Tops, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Hawkwind, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.

The Everly Brothers and Rod Stewart and The Faces also played the venue.

David Essex’s visit in the 1970s saw hundreds of screaming girls outside as Essex Mania was in full flight.

And it was also a great venue for comics, Bob Monkhouse and Morecambe and Wise.

I was at the Eric and Ernie show with my wife and her chair collapsed as she lent back.

We thought it was a planned part of the show. It wasn’t…but it soon DID become a part of it.

From June 1974 it went on limited opening hours by closing on Mondays and Tuesdays and final closure as a full time cinema and theatre came in  November 1974 with the David Essex film That’ll Be the Day.

Occasional live shows were presented and Bollywood films were shown on Sundays for just over a year, until it was converted into a Granada Bingo Club in January 1976. Since May 1991 it has been operated as a Gala Bingo Club.

With seating for 2,468, it is a large venue  still has great potential.

Now Gala have sold off the venue, which is being redeveloped as a banqueting hall which will cater for weddings. There has been a tremendous growth in larger wedding receptions in recent years and Gala is seen as ideal for such functions.

A spokeswoman for Gala said: “We can confirm the club is closing on November 13. We do not take these decisions lightly. Customers will be able to use our nearby centres at Stratford and Dagenham.”

She could not confirm the new use of the venue at this stage for commercial reasons.


Picture: Colin Grainger

One Comment

  1. Odetta graves
    November 4, 2018

    How interesting…remember me? The person who continually wrote to the newham recorder about ‘to lets’ and rubbish in Newham! Still here and still reporting it daily!
    Hope you are well! Love reading about old newham!

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This article was written on 22 Oct 2014, and is filed under East Ham, East Ham Granada, East London, Gala Bingo East Ham, Newham Council, Rolling Stones, The Beatles.

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