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No happy ending for iconic Hoxton cinema facade as Curzon moves in

PUBLISHED: 17:05 03 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:38 06 June 2016

Gaumont cinema Pitfield Street

Gaumont cinema Pitfield Street

Archant

A derelict Hoxton cinema set to be taken over by arthouse chain Curzon has had its original facade demolished – despite promises it would be restored.

Heritage groups are angry that the original facade of the old Hoxton cinema has not been preserved during its demolitionHeritage groups are angry that the original facade of the old Hoxton cinema has not been preserved during its demolition

The iconic front of the old Gaumont picture house in Pitfield Street was reduced to rubble this year after developers realised it couldn’t be brought back to its former glory.

In 2012, the original plans for the four-screen cinema and cafe had promised restoration of the concrete structure, but health and safety concerns brought its sad demise.

Curzon told the Gazette they had no part in the developers’ demolition job and said architects would be building an exact replica ahead of next year’s opening.

But a heritage group has asked: “what’s the point?”

Pulp this 'ugly' plan: The Gazette splash from May 21 2009Pulp this 'ugly' plan: The Gazette splash from May 21 2009

Nick Perry, of the Hackney Society, said: “If we knew it [the original facade] wasn’t salvageable we wouldn’t have supported a 100 per cent pastiche or fake version of it. The integrity and heritage of the building is in those bricks.

“Now it becomes a burden on the development, trying to painstakingly recreate it. They might as well build a good quality, modern cinema.

“The facade wasn’t high quality, the building had history and it was a marker for that. You could look up at that and say to children ‘that’s how the original cinema used to look’.”

The old 866-capacity cinema opened in 1914 and closed in October 1956 after shutting temporarily during the blitz. It fell into disrepair before being sold in 1960, when it became a meat packers and then a delicatessen.

In 2004 the building was bought by the Shoreditch Trust who drew up the plans to reopen it.

It made the news in 2009 when Pulp frontman and Hoxton homeowner Jarvis Cocker labelled the planned new building a “big ugly lump”.

The Britpop legend was angry at plans for an office-space extension above the cinema, saying his private life would be exposed to prying eyes.

He told the Gazette: “I don’t want office workers to be able to see me parading in my pyjamas every time I take a slash.”

Jarvis has since moved to Paris.

A Curzon spokeswoman said: “Sadly the facade had to be demolished due to health and safety concerns, but before this happened it was fully surveyed enabling our architects to build an exact - but more robust - replica in its place.”

Hackney Council has been approached for a comment.

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