Does Hither Green need a Community Cinema?

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I think the short answer is YES, but here is a longer answer!
  1. The Park Cinema
  2. Hither Green Hall
  3. We are all volunteers
  4. Cinemas in Lewisham

The Park Cinema
Park Cinema 1913
The Park Cinema was an independently operated cinema that opened in 1913 at 232 Hither Green Lane on the corner of George Lane. It had been refurbished in 1930, to install sound equipment and re-opened with the Janet Gaynor film “Sunny Side Up”, boasting a new wonder organ.

In 1931, architect Leslie H. Kemp was employed to modernise the cinema, particularly the facade, which received a ‘modern’ Art Deco style. The cinema went dark in 1957. Since then the building has had various businesses in it, including a boating shop and an indoor children’s playground named ‘Kids Korner’. The building was sold again in 2008 and the new owners proposed that the building be pulled down and be converted into flats. This was received by a general outburst of disapproval from the local community (some of whom had just seen the Hither Green Fever Hospital torn down and turned into Meridian South) thinking that the space should be used to serve the community in some way and that more flats, opposite Meridian South, was just not needed here. The local community at large organised and protested this development by writing to the Council, signing petitions, organising a protest outside the building (recorded in local newspapers in May 2009)

and going to the Planning application meeting in June 2009 where a number of people spoke eloquently about what the building meant to the local community. In August 2009 the planning application was rejected but we knew there might be an appeal so our commitment wasn’t done.

Hither Green Hall

A group of local people got together to raise awareness of what was going on and organised the first cinema showing in Hither Green in over 50 years. They found a space in the heart of Hither Green in the form of the old Firemasters building. A warehouse hidden behind houses and an unknown quantity to the local people (This is now Hither Green Studios and has had a new lease of life in the last 6 years). Films were organised, licenses bought, funds found, food & drink prepared and a small army of community minded people got to cleaning the space

that had not been used in years and was suffering from human neglect but not pigeon or guard dog neglect who, it turned out, used the area frequently!

It was a great day, starting with a kids theatrical workshop in the morning

and then a screening of ‘My Fair Lady’ which had local ex-resident Gladys Cooper starring in it,

and we even had Sally Hardy (her daughter) come along and talk to locals after the film

(She came back to the area a few years later when a plaque was unveiled at her mother’s old house on Ennersdale Road).  We then showed the Buster Keaton silent movie ‘Balloonatic’ with live piano accompaniment from Costas Fotopoulos and finished the day off with a showing of ‘Pool of London’, an Ealing Studios film noir. The day was a great success with over 200 people attending throughout the day and off the back off this Hither Green Hall was born. Three locals (an illustrator, a harpist and a city worker) went about organising the group that was officially called the Hither Green Community Hall & Arts Society to cover all the things we imagined could be accomplished in Hither Green if only we could get the Park Cinema back into public rather than private use.
In February 2010 we showed our first film at The Station Hotel (under its previous management), ‘Brief Encounter’, for valentine’s day, to a packed room. The first in a few train related films we showed at the Station Hotel before it changed hands to it’s present owners.
In March 2010 we had our first event at the newly refurbished St Swithun’s Hall (which would become our home). A day of classic films including Easter Parade, Life of Brian and Hot Fuzz (one of the best films about what happens when community comes together, in a bad way, in my opinion) and drama workshops run by Crave Theatre productions for 3 to 13 year olds.
In September 2010 we started our first season of films at St Swithun’s Hall. We had asked the local community what we should show and integrated those suggestions into what we had planned. We started with a Sherlock Holmes double bill showing ‘Hounds of the Baskervilles’ (1939) and ‘Sherlock’ Holmes (2009) followed in November by the cult classic ‘Harold & Maude’ plus the short film “South of the River” by local film-maker Ben Honeybone. December saw our first showing of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ along with “Keys” another short film by Ben Honeybone.
In 2011 The Park Cinema was up for sale again. We thought this was our time, the price had crashed so all we needed to do was find a sympathetic buyer or try and get some funding/backing and we could get this building back for our community.
We invited BBC London News along to see us project a film onto The Park Cinema Building from across the street,

cinema1 Cinema2 Cinema3 Cinema4

we went on BBC London Breakfast radio to appeal to a wider audience and even put together a business case for investors. But to no avail. I was at the auction and talked to the buyer who bought it at a steal (£125,000 less than the previous bought price) and he confirmed that he owned Carpet Corner in Ladywell and their lease ‘might’ be up soon so they needed somewhere else to relocate to. I, personally, was happy at the time that the building would still be used so at some time in the future there would be a chance to get this building back.
Now of course we know they have tried to do exactly the same thing by trying to convert the first/second floor into flats and the ground floor into a food retailer, but in May 2015 that has been rejected by the council for a number of reasons. I am sure they will try again…..

We Are All Volunteers

Hither Green is a great place. There is a diverse mix of people. Those that have lived here all their lives to those that have just arrived in this commuters paradise (when London Bridge Station works properly that is). We are all colours and all nationalities. We are all ages. We are all levels of society hidden between the larger town centres, who love this area and create groups to show what we love the most. From the Hither Green Community Association and Friends and Users of Staplehurst Shops to the Friends Of Mountsfield Park, Manor Park Users Group and Hither Green Hall. We want to see this area prosper and are not afraid to put some of our precious free time into makeing it happen.
So ‘We Need You’. It doesn’t matter what you do in your life, we need you to lend a hand. On the whole it is a couple of hours a month preparing what we do (sometimes just over email or maybe meeting at someone’s house or at the very generous Café of Good Hope) and then a possibly exhausting but fulfilling event day. Seeing peoples smiling faces and getting thanked for what you do at the end of the day makes it all worthwhile! Can you help? Some of our volunteers over the years just help out on the day and let others do the preparation. That’s what we need. Others do research into films and people and create fantastic events but can’t help out on the day. That’s what we need. Some are technically minded but not good at talking to group’s of people. That’s what we need. Some can chat and chat and chat about something that they love. That’s what we need. If you have an interest in helping out (and even if you decide at a later date that you just can’t manage it) get in touch by email, in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below, on Facebook or Twitter. We need every section of our community covered to show what this wonderful area of South East London is capable of.
Things I would like to see happen in the future include:

  • An outdoor screening
  • Black History Month events
  • Special Halloween day in an especially spooky location
  • More music events from the myriad of local musicians of all genres
  • A Hither Green art trail to show off all the artists in the area
  • Saturday morning kids screening
  • Half term & Summer kids screenings
  • Mums and babies scream screen
  • Tea and Screen for the elderly
  • How to make short film courses for teenagers
  • More charity screenings
  • Foreign Film screenings and talks
  • Poetry and book readings/clubs
  • Anything you can think of entered here

We need people like you, from all walks of life to keep this movement going and keep the great vibe that is alive in this community going. Can you help? Get in touch and don’t feel any obligation to do too much, every volunteer does what they can to help out, and we get it done.
Even if you don’t think you can help, let others in the area know. Forward on the email, retweet, share on Facebook, print this out and pass it on to your neighbours to let others who are new to the area or not on social media know that we are here and we need you!
People like you are the future of this group, without you, we can not survive!

Cinemas in Lewisham

Over the years I have talked to many local residents that have lived here since they were born. They have regaled me with stories of being able to go to the cinema every day of the week, see a different film at a different cinema in walking distance!!

Those days have gone. Lewisham is now the ONLY London borough without a cinema (Walthamstow got its new cinema last November). Why is that? We have not only campaigned for the Park Cinema but also for the site of the old Ladywell Baths to be used as a cinema.

Our petition to use that site was seen by Curzon Cinemas in May 2012. We helped introduce them to a local councillor who then took them into discussions with Lewisham planning. We were ecstatic. In September 2013 we were contacted by Curzon Cinemas asking why Lewisham Council had stopped talking to them. We asked our local councillors. They said they would find out. They never got back to us (and I asked on more than one occasion at surgeries and have asked the question at many Ward meetings). Now it seems the demolished site of Ladywell Pools is to be used as a temporary housing development for a maximum of 4 years and then they will revisit what to do with the site. Why not do something permanent with the site now? After the last Ward Meeting where the plans for this temporary building were laid out, a Lewisham employee told me and another resident that the reason they were not building any permanent flats there right now was because house prices were not high enough right now but, in a few years if the Bakerloo line does get extended down the Ladywell line, they can make much more money so want to wait for that time!! It seems it does not matter that there is already an influx of people into the area with nothing to do in the area who then go and spend their money in different boroughs. A cinema as part of a mixed restaurant/café/bar shopping and housing unit on the site of the Ladywell Pools, with its great bus and close train and DLR links would make that area safer with the amount of footfall and give residents somewhere to go without having to rush for the last train home or driving late at night in London. Isn’t Lewisham Council going to be getting enough council tax revenue from the amount of flats going up in Central Lewisham and Catford as it is? Give people something to do here in Lewisham were they have decided to live!!

…in short I think the answer is yes, but it needs you, the good people of Hither Green to step up and say ‘Yes, I would like to do my part in keeping this dream alive.’ Without you there may not be a Hither Green Hall in the future.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you some time in the future, in the dark in front of a silver screen.

Richard Shaw
Chair – Hither Green Community Hall & Arts Society
(All the views above are mine and may or may not be shared by others so let me know what you think!)

Hither Green Hall Presents: It’s A Wonderful Wine!

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It's A Wonderful Wine!

It’s A Wonderful Life Wine!

Saturday 20th December 2014

Doors Open 7.00pm 

St Swithun’s Church Hall on St Swithun’s Road

Join Hither Green Hall for The Classic Christmas Film.  Yes you have seen the film before but have you seen it while drinking seasonal wines courtesy of the Hither Green Wine Club?

Come and watch Bill Bailey save Christmas for us while raising a cup of kindness to one and all!

+++++This Christmas we are also supporting the local group Lewisham Opportunity Pre-school (LOPS). LOPS is a charity that provides inclusive support for 2-5 year olds, with and without special needs in Longbridge Way behind the old Ladywell Pools Leisure Centre. It was established in 1981 to provide term time play facilities for children with complex additional needs, allowing them to integrate with other children. It also provides important support to the families of special needs children needing respite from giving 24/7 care to their children. Historically it’s been funded by Lewisham council but the grants have been getting smaller and smaller so any support is gratefully accepted. For every £1 donated on the day of our Christmas events Hither Green Hall will donate £2 to help support this wonderful group.+++++

Ticket price of £10 includes a table seat to watch the film, 3 samples of seasonal wines (from Hither Green Wine Club) , a mulled wine and 2 mince pies. Extra food and drink will be available to buy at our bar including wines, beer, hot chocolate with marshmallows, cakes, cookies and popcorn!

Purchase tickets in advance from Cafe of Good Hope, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and online at

Hither Green Hall Presents: Frozen Sing-A-Long! ***Extra Screening***

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Sing-A-Long Frozen

Saturday 20th December 2014

Doors Open 2.30pm until 5.30pm Sold Out!!

Doors Open 11.00pm until 2.00pm Extra Screening

St Swithun’s Church Hall on St Swithun’s Road

The filmic sensation all the kids are talking (and singing) about is here!!  If you still don’t know the words, fret not, for every song lyric will drift along the bottom of our screen so you can duet with your kids to their hearts content (or hide at the back of the hall and have a quick drink and natter at the bar with the other parents!)

Once you enter our wonderland head down to the Grotto to meet Santa who will give every good boy or girl a present and then join in a few winter games before the film begins!

Do your children (or you) want to dress up? Feel free! There may be prizes for the best/original dressed!

There will be free squash and water available and also seasonal cakes and cookies, popcorn, hot chocolate with marshmallows, tea, coffee, beer and wine as well as some mulled wine to buy from the bar too!

+++++This Christmas we are also supporting the local group Lewisham Opportunity Pre-school (LOPS). LOPS is a charity that provides inclusive support for 2-5 year olds, with and without special needs in Longbridge Way behind the old Ladywell Pools Leisure Centre. It was established in 1981 to provide term time play facilities for children with complex additional needs, allowing them to integrate with other children. It also provides important support to the families of special needs children needing respite from giving 24/7 care to their children. Historically it’s been funded by Lewisham council but the grants have been getting smaller and smaller so any support is gratefully accepted. For every £1 donated on the day of our Christmas events Hither Green Hall will donate £2 to help support this wonderful group.+++++

Tickets are £5 per child (Adults are free but must be accompanied by a child. Available from Cafe of Good Hope, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and   *** Only tickets for 11am remain ***

Hither Green Cinema Presents: Short Film & Music night

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Sunday 18th May 2014

St Swithun’s Church Hall
Doors Open 7.30pm

Short films from around the world
And Music from DJ Lynne & Lord Ant

We have a selection of the best (and worst) short films that have been sent to us over the last couple of years. We have films from new and old film makers in Hither Green right through to new films from Australia and the US. We have some romance and we have zombies. Yes Zombies! We even have a music video that tells it’s own story!
Then we have DJ Lynne & Lord Ant (From Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet & The Vinyl Lounge) spinning discs in between films to keep you entertained with their wicked selection of tunes.
So all we need is you to come along, sit around our candlelit tables with friends or with strangers, talk about the films (give marks and feedback) and get to know new people over a few drinks, popcorn, cake and good company. Come and relax, take in some short films made by perhaps the next Steven Spielberg or Destiny Ekaragha(whos first short film ‘Tight Jeans’ we showed a few years ago and now is showing films at the BFI!) so you can say you were there.
Tickets are only £5 and can be purchased in advance from Cafe of Good Hope, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and online at
There is a fully stocked cash bar, freshly made popcorn and cakes & cookies.What more could you want?  See you in the candlelight!

Hither Green Hall Presents: A Teddy Bears Picnic

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Teddy Bears Picnic

Teddy Bears Picnic

Sunday 18th May 2014

Gate Opens 2.00pm until 5.00pm

St Swithun’s Church Garden on St Swithun’s Road

*******Please Note: In case of bad weather, everything will be moved inside St Swithun’s Chuch Hall (Except ‘Meet the Bees’ as they don’t like their houses being moved!!*******

If you go down to the woods today
you’re sure of a big surprise……

As part of Hither Green Festival, Hither Green Hall is inviting the bears to town and giving them a picnic! And you and your little bears are invited too!!

If you go down to the woods today
you better go in disguise…..

We will have a host of Bears (and their friends) of many shapes and sizes with a picnic laid out with squash and sandwiches (with their crusts cut off of course) all free for the little ones!

For every bear that ever there was
will gather there for certain because
today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic

Also during the afternoon there will be:

Tickets are £5 per child (Adults are free but must be accompanied by a child. Available from Cafe of Good Hope, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers and

Tea, coffee, soft drinks, cake and biscuits will also be available from our cash bar/picnic table

A Little Bit of Politics: Tory Boy – the Movie ‘plus’ Director John Walsh and Q&A with your local candidates

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Who would you vote for?

Who would you vote for?

Sunday 11th May 2014

Doors Open 6.00pm at St Swithun’s Hall

Tory Boy The Movie - plus Director John Walsh will be present and there will be a Q&A with local, European & Mayoral candidates for your local area!

Who are you voting for? Labour, Conservative, Green, UKIP, Liberal Democrats, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition or People Before Profit? And those are just for local council?

What should they do for you? Will they do it? Come and ask them after the film.

Confirmed they will attend:

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock (Lab), Andy Beadle (TUSC), Caroline Attfield (Con), Paul Oakley (UKIP)

Tory Boy – The Movie

This film contains strong language and scenes of politicians that some viewers may find offensive!

Grierson Award Nominated Documentary Feature. Film-maker and Labour voter John Walsh becomes a Conservative Candidate for a seat in a Labour heartland during the British 2010 General Election Campaign. What he uncovers is a place where intimidation and neglect have scarred a town that politics has forgotten. He goes on a quest to find the local absentee Labour Member of Parliament. Tory Boy is a political satire that cuts to the heart of the current British anger over politicians who have exploited a system for years. Working with news footage, animation and film from the campaign shot over six months, Tory Boy is a unique insight into the political culture of one of the world’s oldest democracies.

John Walsh (Director and star) will be attending the screening to talk about the film and what he found out about politics. All 15 council candidates have been invited, all 7 mayoral candidates have been invited, a number of local European Parliamentary candidates and a couple of local MPs have been invited too for good measure!

There is a cash bar serving beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks so the evening won’t be too dry!

Free Entry – but first come first served, first past the post get the cushions!

5 minutes walk from Hither Green Station, on bus routes 181 & 225 (Theodore Road stop on Hither Green Lane), free parking in St Swithun’s Road

Hither Green Hall Presents: Igor’s One Man Band Dance Party

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Igor's One Man Band Dance Party

The Jukebox Squeezebox

Igor’s One Man Band Spring Dance Party

Saturday 29th March 2014. Doors Open 7pm

Igor Outkine (the unusually versatile vocalist) and his One Man Dance Party is coming to Hither Green with his Jukebox Squeezebox!!  playing on a “magic“ midi accordion Roland Fr-7x, he will be showcasing a selection of tunes from the Forties to the Noughties, Igor can play the hits like you have never heard them before!

From Balkan, Tango, Swing & Latin to Pop, Rock and Disco, all the hits will be there from ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ to 2 Unlimited’s ‘No limit’ via Staying Alive & Tainted love. Want to hear something specific? Let us know via Facebook or twitter and we will pass on the request to the maestro for a ‘shout-out’ on the night!

Igor has accompanied silent films for us before including his ‘Chills in the Chapel’ sold out event for Halloween. He has also played at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, Café de Paris, with Marc Almond at the Shepherds Bush Empire, House of Parliament & House of Lords, Royal Opera House and from Denmark to the Edinburgh Fringe. This will be a night people will talk about for an age in Hither Green, don’t miss out, come along and be a part of it!

Tickets for this are £8.00 in advance (£10 on the door) and are on sale from Cafe of Good Hope on Hither Green Lane, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers on Staplehurst Road and online from

There will be a free attended cloakroom for those who might want to dress up and get changed at the hall as well as a fully stocked bar of wine, beer, ale, spirits, cider and soft drinks.

And here are some of Igor’s favourite songs:

Puttin’ on the Ritz, In The Mood, I Could Have Danced All Night, Peter Gunn Theme, James Bond Theme, Pink Panther, Zorba’s Dance from Zorba the Greek, Godfather, Hound Dog,
Roll Over Beethoven, A Hard Day’s Night, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Oh, Pretty Woman
She’s Not There, I Feel Good, It’s Not Unusual, Venus, Kung Fu Fighting, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Take a Chance On Me, Voulez-Vous, Gimme Gimme, How Deep Is Your Love, Living Next Door To Alice, Miss you, Sunny, Rasputin, I Will Survive, Tainted Love, Billie Jean, Sweet Dreams, Staying Alive, Bamboleo, No limit, Wonderwall, Sex Bomb


Hither Green Cinema Presents: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

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The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (Cert 15)

Sunday 2nd March 2014 @ 7pm

We don’t bring you an event in 6 months then we do 3 in 4 weeks!!  We are on a role!!

Come along and join us and the spectacular film ‘Priscilla…’ for a fabulous evening of wine, beer and song as we chart the journey of the big silver tour bus ‘Priscilla’ across the Australian outback and the drama, heartbreak and laughter that ensues for her occupants.

On the night we have a fully stocked bar of wine, beer & cider, tea, coffee, hot chocolate as well as cakes, nibbles and popcorn so all you have to do is turn up and be fabulous!!

Tickets are £5 (£1 from each ticket sale will be going to London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard which Hither Green Hall will match along with any money raised on the night) and can be bought from Cafe of Good Hope on Hither Green Lane, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers on Staplehurst Road and online at

We look forward to seeing you on the night and if you feel the need, please look ‘FABULOUS’ (prizes will be given for the most fabulous on the night!)

Rainbow Readings @ Cafe of Good Hope

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Rainbow Readings at Cafe of Good Hope

Cherry Potts, VA Fearon, Rebecca Idris & Catherine Blackfeather

Wednesday 26th February 2014. 7pm – 11pm

as part of LGBT History Month

Hither Green Hall is branching out into the field of Literature to bring you 4 authors reading from and talking about their own books and experiences. With a diverse mixture of writers who cover the spectrum of our society. Please come along, listen, ask questions, get a book signed, eat and drink as the bar will be open late!

Tickets for this event are very limited and only £3 and are available from Café of Good Hope 216 Hither Green Lane, Hither Green, London SE13 6RT or from

All money from ticket sales is going towards the Jimmy Mizen Foundation. There will be beer, wine, soft drinks and teas and coffees to keep you fed and watered on the night.

Hither Green Hall Presents: Sideways – Cheese & Wine tasting evening

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Sideways Cert 18

Saturday 1st February 2014 @ 7pm

with wine tasting from the Hither Green Wine Club
and cheese platters from Mootown

A candlelit evening with cheese, wine, a film and friends!

So yes we have been quiet for 6 months but we are back and we are bringing friends!!

Some people will be detoxing throughout the month of January after the over indulgence of December so to help celebrate the end of January we are having a cheese & wine tasting evening with the film Sideways on Saturday 1st February!
We are setting up candlelit tables and providing table service before the film for a chance to sample the various cheese and wines on offer from our friends at Mootown and the Hither Green Wine Club. Daniel from the Hither Green Wine Club will be on hand to answer any questions regarding the wines and Tom from Mootown will be available to explain what and where the cheeses comes from. There will also be a ‘hand-out’ for each person to take away describing the wines and cheeses they have tasted on the evening for future consumption.

Our regular bar will also be open for beers, ciders, teas, coffees and cakes to round off your evening
Tickets are £15 (which will include: 3 wine tastings, a cheese and oatcake platter, table service and film) and are available at Cafe of Good Hope on Hither Green Lane, You Don’t Buy Me Flowers on Staplehurst Road and on-line at
There are limited tickets to create the right atmosphere on the night, so if you are interested check out one of the outlets sooner rather than later!

This is our first event of the year and we are looking forward to a season of varied films for all. We will be doing kids events, family events, community events and are planning something larger for the summer but it is still in the planning stages and a bit hush hush! We are also looking to expand into other areas of the arts so stay tuned.
Do you have an idea for a screening/event, would you like to help out on a specific project you have in mind or just help out with the running of the Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society (to give us our official name)? If so drop Richard a line at with any ideas. There is no obligation but we would love to meet other community minded people to keep this wagon rolling into the new year!!

We look forward to seeing you in the candlelight!