Silent Cinema Houses of the West End - Atlas Obscura

London, United Kingdom

Silent Cinema Houses of the West End

Take a tour through cinematic history as we follow the trail of silent movie theatres in the West End.

Join us as we take a walk through the West End, tracing the history of these early picture palaces with lifelong theatre historian and founder of the Cinema Theatre Association Ken Roe.

Much of our modern urban landscape was shaped by the advent of movies in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Even today, the changes originally brought on by the silent film industry are still visible. From nickelodeons to massive picture palaces, some of these theatres (or the shadows of them) still dominate the city.

We'll visit the locations of theatres originally built for stage and then updated for film, early movie theatres, and picture palaces. Along our walk, we will see how these theatres are still being used today — or how they're been transformed to fit modern London. There will be tales of theatres come and gone, stories of glamourous premieres from 1930s Hollywood, and even sagas of the dangers of nitrate film and deaths that resulted from its improper storage.

The tour concludes at the former Pyke’s Cambridge Circus Cinematograph Theatre, originally opened in 1911 but currently a Wetherspoons Pub. There, you'll have a chance to hang out afterwards to chat with other Atlas Obscura readers after the tour. 


  • The tour will run rain or shine.
  • Meet Field Agent Leyla Royale in front of the statue of Eros (Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain) in Picadilly Circus 15 minutes before tour start time to check in.
  • The tour is ADA accessible but will be a walking tour on the streets of London. 
  • Wear weather appropriate clothing and walking shoes. The tour will run for about 1 hour 45 minutes and cover just over a mile in length.
  • The tour will end at Wetherspoons pub Montagu Pyke. Guests are invited to hang out after the tour and grab a drink and chat with other Atlas Obscura readers.


Email Leyla Royale at

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