What's inside the State?

Because the State has been closed to the public for nearly two decades many people particularly the new residents of Grays have no idea what is inside the State building. It is obvious from the external dimensions of the building that there is more inside than just an auditorium, this page guides you through the basic layout of this completely original Art Deco 1930s super cinema.

This page features fantastic rare photos of the inside of the building courtesy of Peter Hammond of HWS Associates. He was lucky enough to be allowed access to the building back in 2004 to conduct a feasibility study on the State building and has produced an excellent proposal that was presented to Thurrock council for the State to be used as a performance venue similar to the Cliffs Pavilion in Westcliff


The State's auditorium is the most impressive part of the building. With an overall seating capacity of 2200 the State auditorium is made up of two levels. The ground level seats approximately 1400 patrons and the upper level referred to as the circle seats around 800. Access to the circle is via a staircase that leads from the entrance foyer and access to the ground level is via doors at the rear of the entrance foyer.


Stage and Cinema Screen

The State was built with a 16m wide 8m deep stage which made it also usable as a theatre. The stage also features a small orchestra pit at the front of the stage with an amazing rising Compton pipe organ. The Compton organ is one of a few remaining examples in the UK that is still fully working and in its original location.


The stage also features a large cinema screen with motorised adjustable markers so that the size of screen could be adjusted for different projections. The screen would usually be hidden behind stage curtains before each screening.

Ground Level Bar

The ground level has a large bar and holding area which is accessed from stairs leading down from the entrance foyer. It has a large serving area that reflects the large capacity of the ground level of the auditorium. As can be seen in the photos the bar area also has the same Art Deco finishing as is seen throughout the rest of the building. This part of the building was used as Charlestons nightclub/wine bar in the early 90s


The Circle Bar and Restaurant

The circle also has a impressive sized bar area very similar to the ground level bar, but the circle bar also boasts a 50 cover restaurant to the rear that has its own kitchen. This bar as with the ground level bar had to reflect the 800 seat capacity of the circle.



Projection Suite

Although the building has remained unused as a cinema for the past 18 years the projection suite still retains the original projection equipment and controls for the auditorium and stage lighting. The State when built in 1938 used two Super Simplex E7 35mm projectors that incorporated Magnarc Peerless high intensity arcs for illumination. The projectors were converted some time back to xenon arc lamps due to xenon lamps being more efficient and requiring less maintenance.

The projectors also originally used 2000ft film spool boxes but were converted to a platter type system some time back. This was so that changeovers would no longer be required during a film. Most films come on around several reels of 35mm film and this would require multiple changeovers by the projectionist at certain points of the film using standard reels. The platter system enabled an entire film to be played on one projector and required no changeovers.

The projection room also featured 2 follow spots for stage performances and a Brenograph effects projector. The Brenograph was a dual slide lantern and effects unit which could project various patterns as well as project standard glass slides onto the screen or curtains. It was often used to project messages during performances. In the picture below you can see a colour wheel still in the bottom unit.

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