|The Rainbow or The Finsbury Park Astoria, as it was originally
called was opened in 1930. The last of four “Astorias” to be
built within the space of a year, for a company headed by A. Segal of 20,
Berkley Street, London W.1. - The others were at Brixton(Now The Academy,
Brixton) , Streatham(Now The Odeon, subdivided into 8 cinemas)
and the Old Kent Road(Demolished).Further Astorias were announced
for Wood Green and Catford but were never built.
They are without doubt amongst the finest buildings ever erected in England for the showing of films. And at Finsbury Park we certainly have the best example in Britain of the “atmospheric” style of cinema. All four of the Astorias were designed by E. A. Stone, who was also responsible for other Astorias at Folkestone, Southend, Cliftonville, Brighton and Charing Cross Road as well as other cinemas such as The Grange Kilburn, and The Warner in London’s Leicester Square.
In December 1930 the chain of cinemas were taken over by Paramount Pictures and were renamed The Paramount Astorias. It’s worth pointing out that these cinemas did not just show films, the film were part of a whole evenings entertainment, which include organ recitals and a full-blown elaborate variety show. In November 1939 the cost of staging these shows became too much and Paramount could no longer afford to carry on, the result was the Astorias were taken over by Oscar Deutch’s Odeon Chain. Tasked with making these cinemas profitable they scrapped the stage shows, keeping only the organ interludes and increasing the number of showings of films shown daily they soon began to show a profit……….. So much for show business!
|The Finsbury Park Astoria was erected on an awkward island site between Seven Sisters Road and Isledon Road, bounded at the rear by Coleridge Road. The external composition was led by an imposing entrance block in cream and green faience, the effect of which continues to be diminished by the dominant brick mass of the auditorium immediately behind it.|
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