The most petite member of our family of cinemas is also the one whose roots extend the furthest back built as it was on the site of a larger cinema originally called the New Royalty Kinema. Opened in December 1914, it was operated by the Joseph Mears chain, and the frontage and foyer of the building was originally an 18th-century Georgian town house, with the cinema auditorium built at the rear. The Listed 18th-century facade and former foyer were retained and are now in use as offices and a restaurant, and can still be seen on Hill Street.
Seating in the New Royalty was provided for 900 in the stalls and 120 in the circle, whilst the decoration was carried out in a French Classical style. There was an illuminated dome in the centre of the ceiling towards the front of the auditorium, and a sliding roof over the circle seating area was used on hot summer days. In 1922, a Hill Norman & Beard organ was installed. In June 1929, it was re-named Royalty Kinema. Closed in October 1940, due to the war, it re-opened in May 1942.
The Royalty Kinema was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon chain from January 1944 and as they merged with the Gaumont British Theatres chain, the name was changed to Gaumont from November 1949. The Gaumont was closed by the Rank Organisation on 25 October 1980 and in 1983, the auditorium was demolished.
Due to a covenant on the site, stating that ‘cinema use must be retained’, in the late 1980s, owner Philip Knatchbull enlisted the help of the Twickenham Film Studios, Richard Attenborough and David Puttnam to provide local filmgoers with an independent arthouse cinema and thus on 15 June 1990, the Richmond Filmhouse was born.
Joining with Curzon Cinemas in 2006, the Filmhouse was re-named Curzon Richmond in November 2008 and now, boasting a digital projector, the cinema shows a more varied programme of films.
Set along the banks of the Thames away from the bustle of the high street, Curzon Richmond is a dearly loved neighbourhood cinema which quietly competes with local multiplexes by showing the best in world and independent cinema.