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*** LAST UPDATE: 16/04/08 ***


You can now view the original promotional trailer for our DVD production "The Last Days of the EMD Cinema". Go to the 'Merchandise' page and click the link beneath the DVD description (Windows Media Player required).


Following a long campaign by the McGuffin Film Society, the government announced at the close of 2003 that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG)would be denied permission to convert Waltham Forest’s EMD Cinema into a church. This decision was based on the evidence collected at the Public Inquiry in 2003 where arguments were heard from all sides regarding the future viability of the cinema and its role in the regeneration of Walthamstow Town Centre.

Following this decision – and despite a number of approaches from potential purchasers - UCKG initially declined to enter into discussions regarding a sale of the site to a cinema or entertainment operator.

As a result, the local authority agreed in principle to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order and reclaim the cinema for the purposes of public entertainment if UCKG refused to voluntarily sell the site. In November 2004 council leader Clyde Loakes wrote to the McGuffin Film Society and stated “The council is committed to seeing the EMD Cinema coming back into use as a cinema providing
that it can be developed as a viable entity. It will use its CPO powers to purchase the building should this become necessary”. The local authority appointed Anthony Williams / Capita Symonds Consultants to explore a range of options for the future of cinema in Waltham Forest. The consultants concluded the EMD could be revived as a viable cinema business.

In the summer of 2005 a public consultation took place in order to obtain a clear picture of the demands of local cinemagoers. Market research conducted by Marketlink on behalf of the council confirmed a clear majority of local people were in favour of reviving the EMD as their preferred option for bringing cinema back to Waltham Forest. The McGuffins organised a large public meeting, held at Waltham Forest Theatre, as the centrepiece of the consultation process and this was attended by around 400 people. Representatives from UCKG also attended the meeting but did not participate in the debate. In September 2005 it was finally announced UCKG intended to sell the cinema.

The EMD Cinema, the adjoining shops and Victoria public house were placed on the market via Mayfair-based estate agents Humberts Leisure. The McGuffin Film Society can confirm serious bids were then made aimed at reviving the site as a place of entertainment. Various potential purchasers who inspected the EMD also reported the interior of the building remained in relatively good condition and this was confirmed by photographic evidence. UCKG also stated publicly at this point that a number of offers had been received for the venue


Shortly after UCKG put the EMD on the market, news suddenly leaked about a council plan to develop a rival multiplex cinema next door on the vacant land previously occupied by the recently demolished Arcade building.

In August 2006 UCKG issued a statement claiming the rumours and uncertainty concerning the possible new multiplex had “caused a massive stumbling block on all ongoing negotiations” with their potential buyers and withdrew the cinema from the market. A further statement read “the trustees of the UCKG Help Centre, following advice from the agents in charge of the marketing exercises, have decided to withdraw the property from the market until 2007 when, hopefully, the situation will become clearer”.

In 2007 the council selected St Modwen Developments Ltd. as its preferred bidder for the Arcade site and outlined plans for a new 18-storey building with an option to include a 1,400 seat multiplex cinema. A deal was also agreed to reduce the eventual sale price of the site by £884,000 if the multiplex was included in the final development, thereby representing a massive public subsidy which the council’s own documentation admits would “effectively equate to an equivalent spend by the council”.

Waltham Forest Council admits no market testing has been undertaken to ascertain if a 1,400 seat multiplex would be commercially viable on the site.

Although the multiplex has yet to gain approval, the continuing commercial uncertainty has effectively sabotaged all efforts to revive the EMD and leaves the cinema in limbo until the situation is resolved.

If approved the multiplex option would take several more years of development before reaching completion, leaving the borough without a cinema for the foreseeable future and forcing the EMD to remain idle despite massive public support for its revival.

In January 2008 more than 300 protestors lined up along Hoe Street to mark the fifth anniversary of the EMD’s closure and to oppose council plans for a rival multiplex.

Comments and suggestions regarding the consultation and the role of the EMD cinema in the redevelopment of Walthamstow can be emailed to the developers via CC'd to

News updates will be posted regularly on this website. For full details of the campaign to save the EMD Cinema, please visit our ‘Story so far...’ page.

For details of how you can help the campaign to save the EMD cinema click here.


As part of the coalition of campaigners who are gearing up to challenge the imposition of a high rise retail/residential/multiplex cinema complex in the heart of Walthamstow, a new group has been formed called FIGHT THE HEIGHT!

The group is campaigning to protect Walthamstow’s unique lowrise Victorian character. Council plans for the 18-storey tower block on the Arcade site (corner of Hoe Street and High Street) are already well under way with more tall buildings mooted for nearby sites like the Walthamstow Central station car park - highrise developers are on the prowl throughout the borough. Visit or email help stop this highrise insanity from spreading. The group’s slogan is “Walthamstow says NO to 18 storeys… YES to the EMD!”

The McGuffin Film Society intends to campaign alongside Fight The Height and other local groups who are determined to oppose these short-term, quick fix developments while working towards a sustainable alternative solution which also secures the future of the EMD.


Our new DVD production "The Last Days of the EMD Cinema" is finally available. The main feature covers the story of the Cinema from its early days as a cine-variety theatre right up until its controversial closure in January 2003, and the campaign to save it as a place of entertainment. The documentary draws extensively from footage shot at the final Gala Show plus unique archive film. Special features include a short featurette about the Christie cinema organ, an audio-only soundtrack of the final organ concert at the EMD performed by top theatre organist Simon Gledhill - approved for this release by Simon himself - plus two stunning photo galleries. Each DVD contains an insert replicating the front cover of the original Gala Show programme and giving various facts about the production. Visit the 'Merchandise' page for details and to view the original promotional trailer.


The popular fundraising Film and TV quiz night will return on the first Saturday in June at 8.30pm at the Rose & Crown, 55 Hoe Street E17. First Prize: £50. Second Prize: £20. Raffle with Videos and DVDs to be won. Come and test your knowledge of film and TV trivia. Entry Fee: £1 per person.


The Society still has copies of the EMD Cinema Commemorative Brochure available - although stocks are now low! The McGuffins published the lavish limited edition brochure to mark the closure of the EMD Cinema in its current guise. Professionally produced on glossy art paper with a laminated colour cover, the brochure is beautifully illustrated with rare photographs dating from the 1930's to the closing night in January 2003. The brochure contains a full history of the cinema to date, from its early days as a 'cine-variety' theatre to the recent campaigns to save it from closure. Visit the 'Merchandise' page for details and click on the image for a larger picture. Copies of the Commemorative Brochure can be obtained by sending a cheque payable to 'McGuffin' for £5 + 75p P&P to:

The McGuffin Film Society
458 Hoe Street
E17 7HA


The EMD Cinema has been placed on a list of London’s most endangered architectural gems in a damning report published by English Heritage.

The Buildings At Risk Register is published annually and brings together information on all Grade I and II* listed buildings known to English Heritage to be at risk through neglect and decay. The report describes the overall condition of the EMD as ‘poor’ and notes that the current owner has no framework in place to remedy this situation. English Heritage has the power to acquire and repair any building on the Buildings At Risk Register if suitable developers cannot be found. For the full report please visit


A video featuring edited highlights from our celebration of Patrick McGoohan's cult TV classic 'The Prisoner' is now available. The 35th anniversary event featured guest appearances by leading British character actor Kenneth Griffith, stuntman Frank Maher and former British Film Institute governor Tony Sloman who all reminisced about their time working on the series. Visit the 'Merchandise' page for full details and click on the image for a larger picture.


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