Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Sunday, 14 June 2009 09:44 UK

Children dress-up to save cinema

Children at the demonstration
Campaigners want EMD cinema revived

About 100 children dressed up as film characters have held a demonstration to save a cinema in north-east London.

The Grade II-listed EMD cinema in Walthamstow is known for its Art Deco interior and was frequented by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock as a boy.

The disused cinema was sold in 2003 to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) which plans to make it their headquarters in the UK.

Campaigners said the protest would highlight the lack of local cinemas.

'Restored as original'

The Brazil-based Pentecostal group was denied planning permission to turn the building into a place of worship but it is expected to submit new proposals to Waltham Forest Council.

Campaigners have been calling for the cinema to be revived claiming that another attempt would be made to convert the listed venue.

"This is the first generation of local children since the 1890s who have not had access to a cinema in their town centre," said Bill Hodgson, one of the campaign leaders with McGuffin Film Society.

Interiors of the Granada, now known as EMD cinema
The building is listed for its Art Deco features

"Parents are forced to spend their money in other borough's if they want their children to watch films. It is a ludicrous situation," he said.

Earlier the UCKC said it planned to restore the venue which could be visited by up to 3,000 of its members.

Paul Hill, a spokesman for the church, said: "All the features and fittings are going to be restored as original.

"If we are given the chance to do what we want to do, to restore the property as we intend to restore the property, they will see how committed we are and how pleased they are going to be of being able to use the building once again."

The campaign has received backing from Sir Mick Jagger, broadcaster Tony Robinson, actress and comedy writer Meera Syal and politician Tony Benn.

In the 1960s the cinema, then the Granada, hosted gigs by many top bands including the Stones, the Beatles, the Kinks and the Who, and was a frequent haunt of Hitchcock when he was growing up in London.

The venue, which opened as a dance hall in 1887, became a full-time cinema in 1907.

It was reopened as the Granada after being redesigned by Russian stage designer Theodore Komisarjevsky in 1930 and is listed for its Art Deco features.



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