The history of the Mecca Towers Building

The Towers Cinema was opened on 3rd August 1935 at 31 High Street.It was built on part of the Gray Towers site after it’s demolition in 1931. Towers Centre was initially built for and operated by the independent D.J. James Circuit and had interior decorations by Clark & Fenn

The building was designed by the specialist architects Kemp and Tasker. In it’s early years before World Ward II it would cater in the evenings to a large audience in pre-television days for the masses and as well as a big screen it had a  fully equipped stage and dressing rooms and a cafe/ballroom.

The very first screenings were “The Phantom Light” starring Binnie Hale and “Vagabond Lady” starring Robert Young

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By 1939 the building was taken over by a small independent circuit, Eastern Cinemas, who in turn were taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres circuit in 1943. It was re-named Odeon from 26th June 1950.

During this war time period there was an ‘Observer Corps’ on the roof of the cinema building, being the tallest building on a hill, it commanded a view over RAF Hornchurch and towards Kent. Incoming raids were reported heading for London.

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The Odeon closed on 6th October 1973 screening the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Hall. At that point the Towers sign was completely covered

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Mecca Bingo took over from ‘Tower Rank’ and in 2010 renovation work was performed on the building, uncovering the original Towers sign that featuring huge stone letters carved into the upper level of the building’s fascia.

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Earlier this month news came to light that Mecca Bingo had sold the Towers building to Lidl and they planned to knock it down within two months.

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It’s estimated that up to 150 people attend the bingo hall on weekend evenings and news of it’s demolition had caused a large protest from many people who do not want them to destroy this ‘Art Deco building’.

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For more information please check out the ‘Save the Mecca Towers Building in Hornchurch’ facebook group and Save the Mecca Towers Building petition, which already has 362 signatures

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One thought on “The history of the Mecca Towers Building

  • September 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm
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    I understand there was an ‘Observer Corps’ on the roof of the cinema building during WW2, being the tallest building on a hill, it commanded a view over RAF Hornchurch and towards Kent. Incoming raids were reported heading for London.

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