Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is maverick 1960s porn purveyor Russ Meyer’s finest achievement.

Mayer had made many low budget flicks before this, like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, a great film depicting the adventures of three psychopathic go-go-dancers (it’s as good as it sounds).

But Beyond the Valley was his first for a major studio, and as well as having a higher budget (all the better for filming the crowd scenes and financing an appearance by The Strawberry Alarm Clock, a late 60s rock group that was on the wane).

The script was jointly created by Meyer and Roger Ebert, a film critic, of all people. Although a colourful whirl of Los Angeles life at the turn of the decade, BTVOTD was not based in any fact – the men got their idea for the unhinged ‘Teen Tycoon of Rock’ Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell from Phil Spector.

Neither of them actually knew him, or knew much about him, so they wrote the character as they thought he’d be like. It certainly isn’t an accurate source of reference for its period, but it is lots of fun.


Claimed (later) by both men to be a parody, BTVOTD is an odd film – it looks several years older than its release date of 1970. Interestingly, the band that the film is centred round, The Carrie Nations, nee whatever, had no precedent at the time – successful female groups of this time tended to be a puppet of a pop svengali, not the feisty, songwriting, instrument-playing bunch depicted here.

The band, consisting of feisty lead singer Kelly, doe-eyed and melancholy Casey and hip soul sister Petronella were all played by ex-Playboy centrefold girls. Despite their dubious pedigree, all three pull off their parts with great aplomb, even given Dolly Read (who plays singer Kelly), whose accent sometimes veers back into English – she was born in Bristol.

The film charts their rise to fame, and their downfalls along the way. Starting off by playing college gigs, they move to Los Angeles, where one of the band has a long lost aunt, who she is convinced will help them. And this she does, by promptly offering her neice half a million dollars of an inheritance.

She then introduces them to a leading music producer at one of his parties, the suave Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell. This bizarre character, who constantly talks in a cod-shakespearean way was indirectly inspired by legendary loony record producer Phil Spector -neither Meyer or Ebert had met him, and so came up with a fantasy of what they imagined him to be like, a technique which helped them create other characters too.

All three of the girls were played by ex-nudie models with no previous acting experience. To their credit, they pull their roles off very well, although Dolly Read, the female lead, does occasionally slip back into a British accent (she was from Bristol, fittingly enough).


But the most striking character goes by the name of Ashley St. Ives. Played by Meyer’s then-wife, she is quite terrifying in the pursuit of the band’s original manager, Harris Allsworth. “She went after me like a barracuda”, quips one (clearly gay) gentleman at one point, and you can clearly see what he means. Sadly she isn’t in the film for long, but she sure makes her mark.

The film looks rather older than it is, which makes all the jaunty drug references and sudden nudity all the more jarring. In fact, it is more reminiscent of a highly condensed soap opera than a movie at times, a fact borne out by the use of dramatic organ music at pivotal points, in the way that a show such as Peyton Place would have done.

BTVOTD comes across as a lurid and hysterical piece of exploitation, and a lot happens during the running time. Apparently Meyer and Ebert insisted that the parts were to be taken seriously by the actors, but had intended the whole thing to be a send up, and the lack of knowing smiles or winks just heightens the ridiculousness.

Filmed in glorious, saturated Technicolor, and with sets that represent the worst (or best) of late sixties design, BTVOTD is quite a trip in every way possible.

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

While Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a very well known film, its follow up, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte is rather more obscure.

It was originally conceived as another vehicle for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, on similar lines to Baby Jane – a slightly crazy aged Southern Belle who has long been suspected of murdering her lover is fighting eviction from her home, and enlist her Cousin Miriam for help. The Role of Miriam was originally Crawford’s, and she was present and correct at rehearsals and the first days of shooting.

Unfortunately for her, Davis was a shareholder in the film, and chose to take it upon herself to pointedly criticise Crawford’s playing. Soon enough, Crawford was rushed to hospital with some unspecified illness, which she didn’t recover from until she was released from the contract.

Her place was taken by Olivia De Havilland, a lady who had been friends with Davies for years, and was more capable of dealing with Bette’s temperamental nature. She gives a fine performance, although you can’t help but wonder how Crawford would have played the role – particularly as the film progresses.


The film opens in 1927, with Charlotte’s father insisting to her married lover that he ditch her. He does, much to her distress, and she runs off. As he broods alone in a room, someone enters. “Charlotte?” he asks, only to be chopped to bits with a meat cleaver. In the next scene, Charlotte enters the ballroom, with blood splattered on her dress, symbolically over the crotch area.

Cut to 1964, and a bunch of kids dare each other to go into the dilapidated mansion. The kid that does accidentally sets off her musical box, and she springs up. But there is no malevolence there – she calls out for her long-dead lover, and the credits roll with her staring out into the distance, a tear running down her face.

As with Baby Jane, this film was directed by Joseph Aldrich, in moody black & white. the early part of the film is much lighter than its forebear, with the apparently sweet Cousin Miriam trying in vain to explain to Charlotte that there is very little she can do to prevent demolition of the family home.

Charlotte launches into a speech about how ungrateful Miriam was when her family took her in, while Miriam retaliates about Charlotte’s family bullying her over the hand-me-downs she has to wear. This is the first sign of tension between the women, with Miriam seeming exasperated and Charlotte downright stubborn.

Unknown to Charlotte, her cousin is plotting against her, with the help of the boozy family doctor, Drew Bayliss, played by Joseph Cotten. Her crotchety maid Velma, played by Agnes Moorehead (unrecognisable from Bewitched, susses out what is happening, especially once she finds Charlotte in a drugged stupor in bed, but before she can do anything about it, she is sacked, then shoved down the stairs to her death when she returns to help Charlotte escape.

Miriam and the doctor are plotting to send Charlotte even more loopy than she already is, and this climaxes when, with the aid of some sort of hallucinogenic, they manage to make Charlotte think that she is back in the 1920s, at the ball where her lover dies. With lots of shadows (to hide Davis’ less than youthful appearance), she enters a ballroom full of masked dancers, only to have the headless corpse of her lover show up. In terror, she shoots at the body, only to come back into reality and discover that the corpse was in fact her doctor. Miriam decides that they have to get rid of the body, and turns real nasty.


Olivia De Havilland is particularly good in her role, especially as she normally played a wholesome character in most of her films. In Charlotte, her character’s about face, from angel to monster, is carried off with great aplomb – it would have been even more shocking to a sixties moviegoer who had only ever seen De Havilland in nice-girl roles, to see her hiss “Damn you! Now will you SHUT your MOUTH!” to a boggle-eyed Bette, after a few good slaps.

Charlotte is in my humble opinion, a better film than its predecessor. The pace is snappier, and the horror more ludicrous. And unlike Baby Jane, the ending could almost be described as a happy one.

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean Hotel, Saltdean, Brighton

Along with the Lido to the south, the Ocean Hotel (sometimes known as the Grand Ocean Hotel) is another fine example of thirties seaside architecture in the south coast village of Saltdean.

Indeed, it was constructed by the developers responsible for the Lido and much of the actual village, the saltdean Estate Company, formed by speculator Charles Neville in 1924.

The Ocean Hotel was acquired by Butlins and opened its doors for business in May of 1953 after an extensive refurbishment. Six months of hard work had gone into restoring the near-derelict building to its former glory.

As luck would have it the hotel turned out to be excellent investment for Sir Billy Butlin. With its close proximity to the bright lights and night-life of Brighton, the hotel proved a very popular destination for honeymooners throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies.

It stayed in their ownership until Rank Leisure, the owner of Butlins, put all of the Butlins hotels up for sale in 1998. They went to the Grand Hotel Group.

There is so little demand for accommodation in the hotel now, that plans are being made to house asylum seekers there, which is currently rousing local protest.

Unfortunately, the front view from the hotel (which faces north-east) was blighted in the 1950s when the countryside opposite it was redeveloped for housing.

However, the hotel appears to be in good condition, retaining many original features, including glass-brick columns flanking the main entrance, and the mouldings on the ceiling of the foyer. Due to its slightly off the beaten track location, it is not somewhere you would find without looking for it, but it is a beautiful building.


The sun shining over the hotel…


…and setting.


Looking southeast over the facade.



Looking west, showing the curve of the facade.


Inside the foyer, showing the original ceiling mouldings.

Posted in Politics & Random Musings, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Embassy Court, Brighton

Embassy Court is one of the most striking buildings on the seafront at Brighton and Hove, although the reasons for this have differed over the years.

When built in 1935, the building contrasted sharply with the more sedate and ornamental architecture of King’s Road; but by the 1990s, the structure drew comment because of its terribly run down nature.

The building made the local press after chunks of render and windows fell from the building onto the street below, and it appeared until recently that it may suffer the same ignominious fate met by the West Pier sat opposite it, which finally succumbed to the elements (and arsonists) in early 2004.


Luckily this proved not to be the case – a consortium formed by residents and owners were able to wrestle the freehold of the building from the previous ineffectual management company, and with the assistance of the Conran group, restoration commenced in 2004.


The decline of Embassy Court was all the more worrying due to its significance in architectural terms. Although there are several blocks of flats in the Art Deco style in Brighton and Hove, none encapsulates the boldness or prominence of Embassy Court. The building was designed by the architect Wells Coates, a Canadian/Japanese designer acknowledged as one of the masters of the machine aesthetic of the 1930s.

One year previous to this, Coates had been responsible for the design of the Isokon flats in Hampstead, London, which were intended to provide affordable housing with a communal slant, and in the year that Embassy Court was completed, one of Coates’ most iconic designs appeared on the market – the striking Ekco AD65 radio set, housed in a perfectly circular bakelite cabinet, and now highly collectable.


Embassy Court was intended to be luxurious, and this was reflected in the well off (and sometimes famous) occupants in the building’s early life.

One of the features of the building was a restaurant in the basement to cater for residents; and even though this meant that kitchens in the flats were rather small, they still featured built-in cupboards with integrated Electrolux refrigerators, a feature practically unheard of in British homes of the period. The building also incorporated the first ever penthouse flats to be built in the UK.


Like the Isokon flats, Embassy Court was uncompromisingly modern; the sole concession made to integrate the building with its neighbours was the way that the windows were designed to line up with those of its neighbour.


However, such was the contrast between the two styles of architecture, such a subtle gesture went largely unnoticed. The failure of the building to blend in with its surroundings was a frequent criticism, but its appearance found favour with one very significant man. That man was Herbert Carden, who had been a town councillor for Brighton since 1895.

Carden was a great believer in what was referred to as Municipal Socialism, and had been responsible for the formation of Greater Brighton in 1928, leading to a knighthood in 1930. So taken was Carden with Embassy Court, that in a booklet commemorating the Royal Jubilee in 1935, plans for the complete reconstruction of the seafront area were revealed, which would have entailed mass demolition of the original Georgian properties to make way for a slew of new and ultra modern blocks.

Thankfully, such destruction did not go ahead, leaving Embassy Court as the only modern building on the seafront until the construction of the Cavendish hotel and the Kingswest Centre in the 1960s.

By the time that these two buildings were constructed, Embassy Court was in physical decline, a situation exacerbated by a cheap and shoddy programme of refurbishment in the 1960s. The fabric of the building was also in poor condition; the steel framed windows were highly vulnerable to the salty sea air, as was the steel reinforcement of the concrete structure of the flats.

Maintenance work on the block was skimped, and by the late 1990s, the block had a reputation that was at best bohemian, and at worst, downright dodgy. The proliferation of absentee landlords did not help matters, and it appeared that the block would face more years of neglect until it was razed to the ground, despite listed status.

The state of the building was so poor that it was impossible to get a mortgage on any of the flats; and it was not until the management company Bluestorm formed by residents were able to gain control of the building at the turn of the 21st Century that work could commence on reviving the block.


This is currently in process, with repairs being carried out both externally and internally, with the intention being to restore the block to something approaching its original state, although with some modernisation such as the replacement of the centralized heating and hot water system with individual units for each flat; but it would appear that once more Embassy Court will become a building that strikes one because of its unique and uncompromising appearance rather than the semi-dereliction that had affected it for such a long time.

The pictures on this page were taken in 2001, long before any work had started, and show how poor the condition of the block was externally. At the time of writing, work is being completed on the restoration of the side of the building that faces the seafront, and the scaffolding that shrouds it is due to come down soon.

Posted in Politics & Random Musings, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

The De La Warr Pavilion was erected between 1934 and 1935 in the otherwise sleepy seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, following a competition held by the mayor, Earl De La Warr. He sought a design for a new leisure complex for the town, and this was to be the winning entry.

The design was by Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, both celebrated designers of the modern movement. It was truly a stunning design, with a welded steel frame and cantilevered staircases, and even today it is considered to be one of the most significant modern movement building in the United Kingdom.

Although the building has never been subject to some of the indignities or neglect that many of its contemporaries have, over the decades there had been some unsympathetic ‘modernisation’. Happily, the pavillion has been Grade 1 listed since 1986, and the building is currently undergoing a gradual but sympathetic restoration.


The front of the building, showing one of the projecting staircases.


A closer view of the streamlined lettering above the front entrance.


The cantilevered rear staircase, which overlooks the English Channel.


The remarkable light fitting that runs up the rear staircase.


A view of the balconies of the Pavilion from the seafront.


In the auditorium of the theatre, showing the exquisite wood panelling, and the remarkably space-age ceiling.


More original detailing in the auditorium-note the original chrome 1930s ‘Exit’ sign.

Posted in Politics & Random Musings, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bishopstone Railway Station, Seaford

Nowadays, Bishopstone railway station is almost forgotten, an unstaffed halt and the last stop on the Lewes – Seaford railway line. The whole site has an air of neglect about it; it is easy to forget that it was part of a plan to bring the railway network of south east England firmly into the 20th century.

Before 1923, the railway lines of Great Britain were owned by numerous different companies, a situation that was to change that year with the grouping of the companies. Four new companies were formed, the one responsible for lines in the south of England being the Southern Railway.

This company differed from the rest in that much of their network centred around commuter traffic into London, using some of the most intensively worked lines in the UK. Due to the high volume of traffic carried, the Southern proved to be the company that carried out the most expansion before World War Two.

New railway lines were built; existing ones were electrified; and new stations were constructed to handle commuters from new and intended suburban housing estates.


Following the electrification of the London-Brighton railway, completed in 1933, the lines to Eastbourne and Seaford followed in the summer of 1935.

Three years later, a station at Bishopstone on the latter line opened in 1938. The village of Bishopstone itself had a tiny population, and was situated almost a mile from the railway, but the new station, located about a mile from the terminus of the line, was built speculatively – in the hopes that its construction would encourage the erection of new homes nearby, giving commuters easy access to the frequent electric trains and increasing the income of the Southern Railway.


These intentions were however thwarted by the outbreak of war in 1939. Home building ground to a halt throughout the country, and the area never was developed to the extent that was hoped.

This situation also occurred elsewhere on the Southern Railway, including the stillborn seaside resort of Allhallows-on-Sea on the Thames estuary, and the station at Lullingstone near Swanley, which, although apparently architecturally very similar to the one at Bishopstone, was never opened to passengers and was later demolished.

Bishopstone was a modest station, constructed with only passenger traffic in mind. The frontage of the station was largely constructed in a typical art deco style, with corners incorporating windows that smoothly curved round the sides of the building.


The roof of the booking hall towered above the frontage of the building, and it was a rather unusual structure in octagonal shape, foreshadowing the pillbox defence structures of the Second World War. Although flat roofed, the ceiling of the booking hall was built from glass bricks rather than a more conventional method, which had the advantage of making the booking hall feel light and airy.

Today, Bishopstone station is still open to the public, although it is now rather forlorn, having never reached its potential.


It is unstaffed (although a newsagents still operates in part of the frontage), and one of the two railway tracks running through the station has been removed, leaving a derelict and crumbling concrete platform opposite the operational one.

As late as 2004, the station still had a rather isolated feel to it, located at the end of a road with large private houses running down one side, and nothing but fields and a campsite on the other, but by the middle of that year, work had begun on a new housing development to the immediate west of the station – construction that the Southern railway had planned for nearly 70 years ago.

Posted in Politics & Random Musings, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Granada Cinema in Hove, East Sussex. Photos.

Granada cinema in Hove, East Sussex

Welcome to the page dedicated to the now disused former Granada cinema in Hove, East Sussex, to the west of Brighton. This art deco Cinema was opened in the 1930s as a Granada Theatre, and showed films up until 1974, when it was acquired by Ladbrokes and re-opened as a bingo hall.

The old cinema was thus granted a new lease of life, and stayed open as a bingo club, latterly run by the Gala Group, until it was closed in the summer of 2003. This website includes both a history of the building, located at 193 Portland Road, and a large number of photographs taken around the time of closure. Parts of the cinema had by then changed out of all recognition, while other areas, namely the circle seems to almost have been trapped in a thirties time warp.

The History of the Granada in Hove stretches out over seventy years, and while researching it, some surprising information was thrown my way! Perhaps most interestingly of all, the cinema was never actually part of the Granada chain – indeed, it was not until 1985 that the Granada group actually had anything to do with the place. But the two were connected.

To understand this odd state of affairs, we have to go back to January 1930, and the opening of the Granada Cinema in Dover, Kent.


This cinema was intended to be the first of a chain of Granada Cinemas, owned by the Bernstein brothers, Sidney and Cecil, who had inherited an entertainment empire of cinemas and theatres from their father Alexander. These businesses had been sold off in 1928, and the brothers put plans in action to start a cinema circuit of their own, which was to be called Granada.

Dover was the first of the chain to be opened, followed by Walthamstow in September 1930, but the levels of profit were less than expected, and just over a year later, in April 1931, the Granada Dover was leased out to an independent film exhibitor, Nathan N. Lee, who formed a new company, Granada (Dover) Ltd. to run it.

Granada (Dover) then went on to open another cinema, in Hove, which opened to the public in July 1933, and which was naturally also named the Granada. These cinemas then ran independently from the Granada chain, until the freeholds for both were purchased by the ABC cinema chain in the middle of 1935. Curiously though, neither cinema was given the ABC name at the time; this did not happen until many years later, in May 1965.

It seems bizarre that a major cinema chain could run two of its premises using the name of a competitor for so many years, but this was indeed the case at Dover and Hove. Like the ‘proper’ Granada sites, the Hove cinema was equipped for stage performances as well as film shows, with five dressing rooms and a deep stage. Initially it was fitted with an elaborate Compton electric organ, but after the two ersatz Granada cinemas were sold to the ABC circuit in June 1935, it was poached by the chain for a new cinema in south London in 1936, and has today passed into preservation.

The Hove cinema was the first of the two to close, in 1974, despite protests from local residents. In retrospect however, it does seem remarkable that a cinema in such a suburban location could have lasted for so long; after all, the huge flagship ‘proper’ Granada cinema in Tooting had closed its doors to the public the year previous.

The cinema had received a considerable amount of attention from its owners throughout the 1960s, receiving modernisation in both 1962 and 1970, and after closure in the June of 1974, the period of inactivity at the Granada Hove did not last for long, and the building was reopened as a Lucky Seven bingo hall by Ladbrokes shortly afterwards.

At the start of the 1980s, the interior of the building was extensively modified; a suspended ceiling was installed over the stalls, effectively blocking off the circle, and the floor of the stalls was also levelled. By 1983, the building was owned by a bingo company called Lion Leisure, which was subject to a buyout by Granada in 1985 – belatedly making it a proper part of the sprawling Granada empire. This situation only lasted for six years however, as the Granada group sold all of its bingo halls to Bass Brewers in 1991, which were subjected to a management buyout another six years later.

The future of the Bingo Hall in Hove seemed secure, despite the neglect that parts of the building had been subjected to, as the Gala Group owned the freehold of the site, and the club proved to be profitable. But after an offer was made for the site by a company specialising in retirement flats in early 2003, the Gala Group decided to close the club (although staff there had been reassured to the contrary in June of that year) in an effort to secure planning permission for demolition of the building.

This application was however unsuccessful, and in 2005 it currently sits empty and boarded up – the only use seen since closure being an impromptu takeover by squatters in 2004.

Planning permission for demolition of the building in order to create affordable housing was recently reapplied for, and as the building has stood empty for nearly two years, deteriorating all the while, it seems likely that permission to demolish will be granted.


When built, the building was finished in unclad red brick, and was not whitewashed over until after conversion into a bingo hall circa 1975. During World War Two, and anti-aircraft gun was installed on the roof, but never fired, in case the force of the shot caused it to fall through…


Looking towards the club from the east end of Portland Road. It’s clear in this picture how much the club stands out on this road, which mostly comprises of restaurants and small shops with flats above, built in a vaguely Arts and Crafts style.


Closer in this time, and this shot reveals the neglected state of the exterior-note the bush growing out of the wall in the centre right of the picture, plus the tide mark where the repainting stopped when it was last done ten years ago. The blocked up door in the alcove in the centre of the building led to a sun terrace originally, the bricking up of which made the rooms on the first floor nearest the camera inaccessible.


Looking over the car park to the large back wall at the stage end. The projecting structure in the middle used to be the boiler room area, and the replacement gas-fired heating unit (which was notoriously useless) was housed to the right of the building. Did the circular recess in the middle top of the wall house a clock at one point?


Taken three days after closure, the club has already been boarded up. on the top left of the building, the two skylights visible on the roof provided ventilation for the projection room, apparently because of fumes from the carbon-rod projection equipment. Incidentally, this room was totally rebuilt as offices after closure as a cinema.


Looking directly up from the front doors, up to the bell tower. The old photo on the splash page seems to show some sort of statues on either side of the tower-what were they?

The Foyer Area

The entrance of the building was originally equipped with revolving doors, which stayed in situ until the remodelling of the interior of the building in 1992. most of the original features of this area were obliterated by the time of closure, although some original features did remain.


This picture, taken three days after closure, shows the foyer from the entrance desk. Just visible at the bottom is where the original ticket machine had been re-sited, which has been taken by Hove museum. The stairs in the centre, hidden by a false wall, lead to the circle foyer, while the entrance doors to the main hall are just visible on the right of the picture.


This shot looks from the opposite direction of the above picture, towards the customer entrance to the building. The membership desk (and cubby hole) is to the left. The location of the revolving doors can clearly be seen.


A closer look at where the revolving doors were sited. The pole in the foreground appears to have been associated with them, although moved a couple of feet into the foyer. Former members of staff had been known to dance wrapped round it to entice passing motorists…


One of the few original features left in the foyer area was this safe, built into the wall of the cubby hole by the front desk, which would have been where the box office was in cinema days. It was jammed shut for as long as I knew it… wonder if anything had been left inside?

The Stalls/Main Hall

This page features the extensively modified stalls area, fitted with a levelled floor and false ceiling around 1983. The plaster mouldings towards the top of this false ceiling seem to be the principal original features in this area, although many of the modifications were carried out in a style sympathetic to the architecture of the building.


Taken from the foyer doors and looking towards the screen area. on the left is the book sales counter, while the Random Number Generator (RNG) can be seen to the right, on the stage. The pink pillars nearest the back indicate the original location of the stage edge.


Taken from a position to the left of the above shot, and looking diagonally across the hall. Note the stairs down to the ladies toilets on the left, which may indicate the original floor height. The prize bingo unit is to the right, and the folk you can see in the picture are (L-R) Mrs. Peacock (a regular), Brenda (A.K.A. the “Door Rottweiler”), Bruce and Dawn, our main-stage caller.


Under the circle area in the stalls were two air vents, one of which can be seen in the top centre of the previous picture. There was an identical set in the circle itself too.


Looking in the opposite direction, from the stage, towards the foyer doors. The Bar and prize bingo unit are to the left, and the diner is off to the right. the second ‘step’ in the ceiling is actually the edge of the circle, which has been blocked off from the public since the 1983 refurbishment.


Taken from where the caller stood at the RNG (a portion of which is visible bottom right. Diner in the far corner.


Stood in a similar position, except this is on the final night of trading. The busiest night i’d ever seen, taking 375 customers, twice what we usually did!


A closer view of the plasterwork that ran round the stalls. The walls also featured cherub statues at some point, which may have been on top of those pink pillars. incidentally, the round bits of plasterwork were painted the same blue as the walls… That’s two and a bit years of nicotine staining for you!

The Circle Stairs and Foyer

The circle area of the building has been off-limits to customers since the installation of the false ceiling in the early 80s. this does however mean that many of the original fittings from this part of the building had survived to be recorded for posterity.


Looking down the stairs seen in the first picture on the foyer page. Halfway up, these stairs turn 180 degrees, and continue up to the circle foyer, as seen below.


At the top of the stairs. The octagonal moulding on the ceiling would originally have been backlit all the way round, with a more elaborate light fitting than this one in the middle. The stairs to the right led up to the projection room and the top of the circle itself.


In the circle foyer, but taken from the opposite side to the other photo. Although covered over with cheap blue carpet, this area still had its original tilework, although covered in a particularly viscous glue! The stairs are the other set to the top of the circle, while the passageway to the right led to the lower level of it.


The floor of the passageway mentioned above. I remember being so pleased when I first saw these tiles a couple of years ago, despite their tatty state. Such a shame such a nice feature was covered up for so long.


Facing the stairs above ran a narrow passage past the Treasury, through the computer room and staff changing area to the blocked-off sun terrace and the bottom of the circle. This photo shows some of the (asbestos-based, apparently) mouldings that decorated this corridor.


At the top of the stairs featured in the second photo on this page. The projection room was off to the left.

The Circle

The circle area of the building has been off-limits to customers since the installation of the false ceiling in the early 80s. this does however mean that many of the original fittings from this part of the building had survived to be recorded for posterity.Unfortunately, the lighting doesn’t work up there, hence the graininess of some of the images on this page, but nevertheless, they provide fascinating contrast with the images of the main hall.


There are several light fittings like this in the circle-not sure if they’re original or not though. Note the crumbling plasterwork in this part of the club.


At the top of the central aisle in the circle are the crudely blocked off projector windows. Not sure why there are six, although i’m sure someone could tell me! note the colours of paint too: Green, red, dark beige, brown and light beige, topped off with a purple ceiling. Very 1974…


Further down the central staircase, looking towards the projectors. The cable was either for the lighting in the main hall, or the CCTV system, installed only a few months before it was decided to close the club.


At the other end of the central aisle is was this very nice wrought iron barrier. Immediately in front of it are one of the fluorescent light fittings, followed by one of the aluminium ventilation tubes which ran down from holes knocked in the ceiling down to the public area in the stalls.


More wrought ironwork, and one of a pair at either end of the foot of the circle. All of these have now thankfully been saved from the bulldozers.


One of the exits from the circle. When built, turning left out of this door led to the now blocked up sun terrace. Turning right led through what had become the staff changing area and computer room.


Looking at the end of the rows of seats, which don’t look like they’ve been changed since 1933. Notice the ‘G’ for Granada moulded into the end of them.


Looking across some of the seating in the circle-just look at how dusty it was up there! The yellow things are rodent bait I believe, but plenty of bingo debris (including Granada Bingo books and polystyrene cups) and other junk litters the area too.


A View over the false ceiling, towards the proscenium arch. You can just make out the ventilation grilles corresponding to those in the main hall in the centre of the picture.


Again looking towards the proscenium arch, over the false ceiling, towards the centre of the hall. The fire curtain appeared to be in place, but I couldn’t get a decent shot of it in the gloom.


The best overall shot that my camera could manage! Again, looking towards the proscenium. Note the ventilation tube in the foreground stretching all the way down.


I particularly liked these gents toilets (!) as they seemed to be pretty much unchanged since the building of the place! This looks towards the sole cubicle-none of us could figure out what the hatch in the wall was for though.


Another remarkable survivor from the opening of the cinema in these toilets was this fantastic mirror, which I was very excited to find. The missing piece of blue glass was on the floor, and this was surely one of the few bits of the building left where you were reminded of how grand it must have once been.

This website is in no way affiliated with The Gala Group. The photos herein were all taken between August 29th and September 2nd 2003.

If you like what you read on this site, please use the social media buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform you use. You can also use the comment box below.

Posted in Politics & Random Musings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Landsbanki Guernsey Fiasco Ends after 8 Years. Depositors LOSE 8% in Unsafe “Haven”.

The Landsbanki Guernsey fiasco has been covered here before.

We covered it in these articles:

Landsbanki Guernsey Crisis – UK Government cover up and pressure to close protest websites.

Landsbanki Guernsey Depositors

Guernsey Commissioner’s Meeting 19th Jan 2011 about failed Landsbanki Islands Icelandic Bank

Landsbanki Guernsey Depositors To Get Another 17.5% Of Their Money Back

The short version is that Landsbanki Guernsey collapsed in 2008. Now we are in 2016, the official liquidation is finally concluded and the depositors have lost 8% plus 8 years compound interest.

Guernsey had ZERO depositor protection.


Now they claim to have depositor protection, but could they afford a bank collapse? Probably not.

Banking in Guernsey: That well-known crown dependency of the UK, offshore tax haven and a reliable custodian of your cash.

Or NOT as the case was.

Nestling amongst the allegedly safe banks on Guernsey was Landsbanki, an Icelandic owned bank guaranteed by its huge parent company Landsbanki in Iceland. What could go wrong? All these countries are EU, right? Icelandic banks were well-known and reliable, right? Guernsey was a world-class banking haven insulated from grasping Gordon Brown and not stupid enough to invest in US mortgage debt. Cash was safe in Guernsey everyone thought.

Iceland is not EU. Nor, technically, is Guernsey (although they bow to the EU savings directive and are a UK Crown Dependency).

Well, Guernsey is not safe any more it seems! In October 2008 the Icelandic government nationalized Landsbanki Iceland. In turn, all its affiliates and subsidiaries around the world toppled like a house of cards.

However, what of Landsbanki Guernsey? Well nobody noticed before, but Guernsey lacked depositor protection. Savers relied on its stringent financial regulation [sic] not to let minnows and “Johnny-come-lately” types into Guernsey.

However, while Lyndon Trott – the big cheese on the island – and some of his cohorts were bigging it up in the Orient on Labrador fried rice at the taxpayers expense, Guernsey was wobbling as a trusted financial centre.

Landsbanki Guernsey went into administration. The administrators have paid out 30p in the pound within a couple of weeks of the bank’s collapse, and made further payments in 2009 (25p), 2010 (12.5p), 2011 (17.5p), 2013 (4.6p) and 1.96p at the end of May 2016.

What of the 8% shortfall? Guernsey won’t pay. The UK won’t pay. Iceland has managed to slither out of its commitments abroad even though they nationalised the parent bank.

FACT: In 2016 UK-based and other international savers lost 8% of their cash in Guernsey.

Guernsey is finished as a retail financial centre – simple as that. Nobody wants to invest money in a “financial centre” where people lost their cash – it’s that simple!

If people want risk, they can get that earning 17% interest in Ukraine. They can get a government backed guarantee in Russia and 10% interest with no government stealing some of the interest. Why will they mess about for 4%-6% in Guernsey where the cash has a tendency to do a credible impersonation of Houdini?

Guernsey’s “depositor protection scheme” is worthless. That is called “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted” – Guernsey’s DPS has as much value and credibility as one from Zimbabwe.

This site says: The Guernsey Government should compensate savers for the 8% shortfall. Every other government in the world appears to be doing this in their own jurisdictions. This is called depositor protection.

Guernsey say they cannot afford to pay. Really?

They could use some of the £15m a year they make from information snooping for the tax authorities in the UK, or maybe some of the tax and other monies they made from Landsbanki to date.

Regulation appears to have been insufficient or ineffective.

Landsbanki Guernsey was poorly regulated and inadequately supervised. Until Guernsey pays the Landsbanki savers (dont hold your breath) they will pay the price with their reputation.

Don’t put your money in Guernsey, folks!

Posted in Business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Petition: Lift EU/US sanctions on Russia to increase trade now the UK is leaving the EU

As we all know, the UK has chosen to exit the EU.

We call this bid for freedom BREXIT.

This means once again we can become an independent country making our own decisions.

The UK has sanctions on Russia.

Russia has reciprocal trade sanctions on the UK.

This means much trade is blocked between Russia and the UK.


Because the warmongering USA has the EU as its bitch. The US says “jump” and the EU says “how high?”

The US has almost no trade with Russia. So it doesn’t hurt the US.

Yet thousands of farmers and producers of other goods in the UK are BLOCKED from exporting to Russia.


Because the USA funded a coup d’état in Ukraine, removed the democratically-elected president, installed an American puppet, anti-Russian president, and the EU dutifully (albeit unsuccessfully) tried to bring Ukraine into its orbit, away from its natural, linguistic, historical and cultural partner: Russia.

The result of this was a breakaway region in the east many refer to as Novorossiya (New Russia), who self-declare as the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

In addition, the people of the briefly “Ukrainian” peninsula of Crimea (full of ethnic Russians) didn’t want to be ruled by proxy from the USA, so they held a referendum, left Ukraine and reunified with Russia.

What has this to do with Brexit? 

The EU and their transatlantic overlords decided to frame those events as Russia “invading” Ukraine and gleefully pressed the EU to sign the UK up to sanctions on Russia. Sanctions that Russia reciprocally responded to and stopped most imports of foodstuffs and many other goods.

Yup, that means in Russia they cannot buy Cheshire Cheese, British eggs, apples or a host of other stuff from the UK.

Because the EU and Uncle Sam say so.

This is directly taking bread from British tables.

This is inhibiting exports.

This is destroying British business and losing British jobs.

BILLIONS of pounds of trade poured into the UK from Russia’s 140 MILLION people.

But it stopped.

But then we voted Brexit!

So why do we need to participate in US/EU led sanctions on Russia?

We dont! 

We have no horse in the race in eastern Ukraine. Not our business.

Russia is no threat to us (or anyone who doesn’t threaten her for that matter). Russia is our friend. Russia WANTS to trade with the UK.

We can, as an independent country (once more), get those 140 million potential customers back. We can get back those BILLIONS of pounds of trade from the largest country in the world with twice our population.


Lets use the mechanism that won us our freedom. Votes!

We have a system for this already.


There is already a vote on the UK Parliamentary website asking for exactly this.

Here is the text:

As the UK has chosen to exit the EU, we will be no longer bound by US-influenced, EU sanctions on Russia. We should lift sanctions on Russia as an independent country to regain the millions of pounds of trade we have lost with Russia. We don’t need to participate in EU/US sanctions against Russia.


More details

The EU and the US introduced sanctions on Russia over the democratic decision of the people of Crimea to reunify with Russia and Russia’s alleged backing of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The UK had to participate in this as an EU member. Now the UK is leaving the EU, we need not be dictated to by it. Lost trade with Russia costs the UK many millions of pounds. This is trade that we are now at liberty to get back. Russia is a market of 140m consumers British business needs.


Sign this petition

At 10,000 signatures…

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition

At 100,000 signatures…

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Share this petition

  • Created by Stuart Smith
  • Deadline 7 January 2017All petitions run for 6 months
Posted in Politics & Random Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Observations from an American who lives in Russia when he visited America again.

I have just returned from my annual sojourn to America recently; Texas and California to be exact.

This might have been the first time I had ever been to Texas and not see someone wearing a cowboy hat. Amazing, since I spent 10 days there (14 days in Cali). Equally amazing was not seeing any police, or very, very few in both places.

Nobody shot at me either. Always welcomed.

Nothing really has changed much, but it being an election year, one could sense a palatable shift in the mood of the country; interesting to witness I must say. Living outside one’s country for years will change your perspective and give you a certain vantage point that is quite different obviously, than from someone who hasn’t experienced this. That is assuming that one can stay objective.

One major paradigm shift for me over the years living in Moscow has been to not look at things as good or bad but different.

People are people. Living in Moscow is not that different, all things considered, than living in LA. Cultural attitudes aside, I get up, go to work, meet with friends, enjoy life, deal with problems etc. much like I did in LA.

America is a great country, let’s not kid ourselves. I always have a good time there and the people are generally nice and polite. Stereotypes are blown way out of proportion, so it’s quite easy for non- Americans to take pot shots at the country and its people as if the same assholes don’t exist in their country in some form or another.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”.

The government takes a lot of heat, and rightfully so. Now it’s time for the American government to change its paradigm and start to work along side countries they have had dubious or mediocre relations in the past. Doesn’t mean putting up with another country’s crap, but not starting any crap of your own as well. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop the do as I say or else nonsense.

It will be interesting to see who is elected President in the U.S.. The U.S. military industrial complex needs to dial it back, that’s for sure.

One thing that was blatantly obvious while I was in America is how the cost of living has gone up in relation to Russia, and Moscow in particular. I didn’t buy half the stuff I normally do to bring back, because quite frankly it cost more in America than Russia taking the exchange rate into consideration. Yikes, what a surprise.

Moscow, normally a perennial among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world now sits at 192. New York City, San Fransisco and Washington D.C. have all cracked the top 10. I don’t think there has been a time in the last 20 years that 3 American cities have been in the top 10. Honolulu, San Jose, Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago all are in the top 30. This really has to be a first since I’ve been tracking this (since I moved to Moscow) that I have seen so many American cities rank that high.

I believe the worst is over here in Russia; I’m 99% sure of it. It’s also a good time for any Westerner to visit given the exchange rate. Oil is at least moving in a positive direction for the country and the country has improved other sectors.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Western businessmen, dignitaries, and diplomats attend this year’s annual ST. Petersburg International Economic Forum after a 2-year absence. It’s quite apparent EU businesses see the Russian economy coming out of a slump and are as Putin says “chomping at the bit” to do business in Russia again. Of course they are.

These sanctions are bullshit and everyone knows this. Sanctions rarely if ever achieve their desired goals and these sanctions have taken a toll on Europe as well. Part of what the sanctions accomplished was to push the Russian’s back against the wall and force them to finally do something productive within the country. Agriculture continues to produce positive results and I see and feel it at check out counter.

America again it seems, have underestimated things with short-sighted policies.

The demise of Russia economically has been greatly exaggerated by the West. There is still a long way to go to get to the boom years of 2000-2007 and recovery is slow to be sure. As with any recession, some people suffer more than others.

Concurrently, it’s good to see Russia reach out to the West as they have done recently. Russia understands its need for the West to ensure a better future for its people. But, it must be done cooperatively, not aggressively or underhanded. I think business between Europe and Russia will start to increase sanctions or not; it’s only a matter of time.

Life is good in Moscow. Certainly not any worse than in most cities/countries.  Summertime is an awesome time to be here and things are looking up. You never know about the future, but it seems there are some rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds of 2014.

My prediction is to look for Russia to show true signs of recovery into 2017 as oil hits $60-70 with relations and business ties improving between the West and Russia.


Posted in Politics & Random Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment