Kilburn’s Gaumont State reopens
A splendid old theatre was restored to its former glory and re-opened as the new home of a Christian ministry, writes Kate Ferguson The Gaumont State, in Kilburn High Road, was taken over by the Ruach Inspirational Church of God in 2009 after a massive ca
A splendid old theatre was restored to its former glory and re-opened as the new home of a Christian ministry, writes Kate Ferguson
The Gaumont State, in Kilburn High Road, was taken over by the Ruach Inspirational Church of God in 2009 after a massive campaign to protect the historical character and design of the building.
Around 100 guests attended the opening civic ceremony, on Saturday morning, to unveil the new church.
In the evening, 2,000 members of the Ruach congregation filed through the doors to hear Bishop John Francis deliver a sermon, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the beloved ex-theatre.
Bishop John, who will be based at the Gaumont State, said: "We are excited, honoured, and privileged to have this extension of our church in Kilburn.
"It is touching to have our ministry in such a beautiful building which has played host to so many great artists.
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"Our church has a vibrant music tradition, we have a choir and I used to be involved in the music industry, so it is fitting that our new home should be in an old music auditorium.
"We hope that we will become a real part of the community, and we will work with councillors, businesses and residents to improve Kilburn and make sure we are meeting the needs of the people."
Residents and politicians welcomed the re-opening of the art deco building, which is a popular landmark which towers over Kilburn High Road.
Ed Fordham, the former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, an early supporter of the project to house the Ruach ministry in the Gaumont State, said: "They have done an amazing job, the seats and the Bingo tables are gone and it is steadily being transformed to its former glory.
"The Gaumont is a magnificent building architecturally, and it is fantastic that it can once again play a role at the heart of the community."
Around �4 million was spent by the Ruach ministry, so far, on buying and restoring the Gaumont State. Its art deco design was inspired by the Empire State Building in New York
Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said: "It was marvellous. It is a great thing for Kilburn that this iconic building has re-opened, and the sheer humanity and commitment of those involved will mean the building will be a beacon for the area."
When the building opened in 1937, it was one of the largest auditoriums in Europe, hosting some of the biggest entertainers, including The Beatles, Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra, the king of crooners.
It was later bought by Mecca and used as a Bingo hall for 20 years, but was put up for sale in August 2007.
The decision to sell the building sparked a massive campaign to ensure any sale of the Gaumont State would protect its original design and features.