History of the State Cinema

 

Originally planned and built as the Roxy cinema the State opened on Monday 5th September 1938 with the showing of the 1938 film The Hurricane staring Dorothy Lamour. Designed by architect Frederick Chancellor of Frank Matcham and Company the State boasted an impressive 2200 seating capacity and air conditioning and was one of the largest cinemas in Essex. The State also featured an illuminated Compton pipe Organ and full stage facilities which enabled the building to be used as a fully functioning theatre/ live entertainment venue. The building cost approximately £100,000 to build which equates to around £3 million in today's money.

The State Cinema during construction 1938.

War time Role

The State remained open throughout the second world war and amazingly sustained no major damage despite being so close to the river Thames, however one night during an air raid a flying bomb landed in the nearby Titan Pit, the blast from it cracked one of the interior pillars. In 1940 anti aircraft guns were positioned throughout Thurrock in a bid to shoot down enemy planes as they followed the Thames to unload their bombs on London, due to its close proximity to the Thames a 25lb anti aircraft gun was mounted on the tower of the State cinema, a real testament to the structural integrity of the building.

A first hand account of the anti aircraft gun at the State being fired can be viewed by following the link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/99/a8850099.shtml

 

Mecca Leisure

The State was aquired by Mecca leisure in 1975 and showed the X rated film The man from Hong Kong. Mecca continued to run the State up until 1985 and showed in my opinion some of the greatest films of the 1980's including Ghostbusters, Starwars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi. The final film to be screened under Meccas management was  Gremlins, this was screened for four weeks and ironically brought the crowds in their droves. Perhaps to little too late; the State closed its doors once again in early 1985.

Robins Cinemas

Almost a year after its closure the State was reopened under the management of Robins Cinemas. The opening film was Back to The Future. The BBC covered the reopening with a live broadcast and all seats were £1. The State was back on top again and continued under the management of Robins Cinemas. On the 5th September 1988 a 50th annerversay party took place at the State with the showing of the 1938 opening night movie The Hurricane staring Dorothy Lamour.

 

The VHS revolution

The State operated successfully as a cinema and entertainment venue up until the early 1980's when Television became the favoured entertainment of the masses. The State remained open as a cinema up until 1989 when it was then not economically viable to use as a cinema due to dwindling audiences sometimes in single figures. This was probably due to the rising popularity of VHS film rental and also a newer multiscreen cinema being built at the Lakeside retail park just a couple of miles down the road. The State Cinema closed on 30th November 1989, it's future uncertain and in desperate need of a new lease of life.

Notice of impending closure taken 1989

Charlestons

In the 1993 the State was opened once again but this time as Charlestons nightspot, an up market wine bar/night club.  Both the lobby and upstairs bars had some additional decoration such as neon bar lights and an additional sound system but  the auditorium generally remained unchanged. Charlestons held some concert evenings in the auditorium, some of the more famous artists being Susie Quattro and David Essex.

A promotional flyer from the Charleston's days.

 

Film Location

In the 90's the building was also used for a music video and some theatrical work more recently, details of which can be found by following the filmography button on the main menu bar. This page also contains details of the sequence that was shot for the 1988 film "Who framed Roger Rabbit" staring Bob Hoskins.

On 28th June 2000 the State was reclassified as a Grade II* listed building by English Heritage. Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest, as of May 2003 there were approximately 442,000 listings in place, of which 4.1% are Grade II*.

Morrisons

The Cinema and vast car parking area was sold to the supermarket chain Morrisons in 2001 with promises made to Thurrock council that some sort of restoration or new life for the building would be forth coming. Unfortunately Morrisons were only interested in building their gigantic supermaket on the land and the land they purchased adjacent to the State and the building was left to rot even further. As far as I know the only changes Morrisons made to the building was to put numerous signs at the rear of the building threatening anyone that parked there.

In 2006 the Building was sold by Morrisons for around £550,000 to a company called TSP Properties. No new ideas have emerged from the current owners but they have been quoted on another website as saying that the State will never be used as a cinema again.