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Historic Tour of The Capital Pub

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Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 24 October, 2006 - 05:36 pm:   

Just to let any interested parties know, The Capital in London Road is doing an historic tour of the pub as a cinema ( inc the pub ghost, I'm told)and access to the roof tonight at 8pm and a later tour at 9pm. For those who can't make tonight, a further tour will take place on Sunday 29th Oct at 10pm. The first tour was last night and some twenty people turned up.
3 per person, all proceeds to Cancer Research.
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 24 October, 2006 - 05:59 pm:   

Maybe I should sell this a bit more. I was in there today for a pint and I met an old boy who was celebrating his 85th ( if I'm half as fit as Doug when I hit fifty I'll be happy). He tells me that the last film his wife watched in there was Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, on its first release. A different era, one to ponder for all us latecomers. I can't vouch for the quality of the tour and of course, it won't be long. I assume it's a local historian who's giving it. But it would be wonderful if some of the older generation who remembered things as they were could attend and chip in with their memories. I'm sure a great many would love the opportunity to do so.
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 25 October, 2006 - 08:02 am:   

A great building and I think the current management do a great job especially with the coffee shop in the old Forum .
I remember seeing many films there in the 60's and 70's although the Granada Sydenham was my local cinema.
For those who knock the pub I remember the many dreary years between when the cinema closed , probably mid 70's and the opening of JDW's
It was firstly a bingo parlour , then mostly just derelict. Well done Mr Wetherspoon for saving this great building and turning Forest Hill round.
Joined 09-04-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 25 October, 2006 - 02:06 pm:   

Brain, are you joking. The Capitol is a terrible place, feels like the local community centre (I guess it is for some!) Has an aggresive, dark, empty atmosphere to it, and the last time I went in most of the people didnt even have a drink (watching the footy for free)

Also a shame that you pay respect to Mr JD Wetherspoon. He's destroyed british pub culture.
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 25 October, 2006 - 04:30 pm:   

Whilst I appreciate some of the people in there are a little short of intelligence they have to go some where.
Do you remember the years when the building was boarded up and falling apart. It was a blight on any devolpment in the area.
I accept the Pub not ideal for all people but in general they are a plus.
Wetherspoons may have forced the closure of some back street pubs but the choice of real ales has always been excellent.
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 11:18 am:   

Went on the tour the other night.

The tourguide, by his own admission, is still learning the history of the building, which makes it all the more important that those of you who visited The Capitol as a cinema pop along and chip in with any titbits from the past, which he is very keen to hear. Fear not if you can't make the next tour on Sunday 29th, as proposals are afoot to make the tour a regular event, inc daytime tours. The candlelight on the stairs was a nice touch, leading up to the roof with great panoramic views. We also got to see the old safe deposit box and hear tales of supposed ghosts, possibly still waiting for a full house from their bingo-going days, methinks! The highlight for me was getting into the balcony, which is still lined with seats, just as it was back in 29, when the building opened as a cinema. Just don't make the mistake that I did and sit in one of the seats. They're covered in an inch of dust and you might end up passing for one of the famous Capitol ghosts, though personally I'd rather have that air of authenticity than have them all scrubbed clean.
One suggestion from me to the management, if they are serious about turning this into a regular tour, would be to acquire some old photographic prints of The Capitol and indeed of Forest Hill itself circa the twenties to adorn the walls and what was the dress circle, possibly some manneqins dressed in the fashion of the day and to publish a small brochure for sale, detailing the history and events.

Thanks to all concerned for this venture tho, it was very enjoyable, and good luck for the future.
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 11:54 am:   

Possibly show an old film occasionally?
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 12:44 pm:   

Sherwood, my thoughts exactly (the facility is there after all and it would buy a little more respect for the place from people like me). Some comments from a mate, who can't remember his password (certainly not one of those banished from

I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of this a month or two before Wetherspoons opened it. I walked behind the old cinema screen, and clambered about on the roof and into the old projectionist's booth.

Let's not forget Forest Hill's other cinema: the Forest Hill Picture House. It closed in 1930 (!), presumably because it couldn't afford to make the switch from silent films over to sound systems. Part of the building is still there, and now a solicitor's office. It is located on Dartmouth Road, just a little up from the Dartmouth Arms, but on the other side of the road. You can see a partial picture of it in a photo haging on the wall of the Bird In Hand.

In fact, thinking about it, I remember being in a barber's shop on Dartmouth Road about 10 or 12 years ago and got chatting to an 85-year-old chap in there who could actually remember the Forest Hil Picture House! He said he also remembers seeing German zeppelins flying over SE23!
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 04:43 pm:   

Agree with Sherwood and Baggy's mate, if it started up a cinema project showing old classics on a weekly or monthly basis i'm fairly sure they'd be onto a winner. Afterall,where's the competition? I get a strong impression from this messageboard and from the other kind of events held locally that there is a large body of people who want more from their evenings than picking up fast food and a video from Blockbusters. Yes we have the pubs and a few good little restaurants, but as Brian said, The Capitol is a gem of a building in our midst (it was being broken into and used for rave parties before Wetherspoons took it over, incidentally)and here's a chance to revive it as a real landmark and get people back out and mixing.
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 05:03 pm:   

They might get a grant from the Council for showing films.

The former Mayor (Dave Sullivan) told me he would help to fund a cinema in the borough.
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 26 October, 2006 - 11:44 pm:   

If I heard correctly at a meeting last week, the Lewisham Gateway scheme will (may) have a multiplex cinema. I was told earlier this year 2 companies had shown interest in providing a cinema.
Joined 24-10-2006
Posted on Friday, 27 October, 2006 - 01:04 pm:   

For those who don't know of it the best history of the Capitol Cinema remains that of Ken George in "The Big Five, Lewisham's super cinemas", published in 1997. It is probably out of print but Lewisham Local Studies has a reference copy.

It may be that Baggydave, or his mate, may be confusing two cinemas. The Forest Hill Picture Playhouse was at 14 and 18 Dartmouth Road. It opened in 1910 and closed in 1914 when it reverted to a shop. The main entrance is now the Chinese restaurant, and the solicitors at no.14 was the tea rooms. The hall at the back (auditorium is too grand a word) was demolished only recently as part of the development going on behind the post office and betting shop.

On the other hand The Stanstead Picture Palace, in Wastdale Road, opened in 1913 and closed in 1955. Like the Capitol it became a bingo hall, and was finally demolished in 1955.
Joined 11-09-2005
Posted on Sunday, 29 October, 2006 - 02:17 pm:   

Just phoned up to confirm with The Capitol about the tour and they said it isn't happening tonight as they've got the quiz on, but they are going to do it everyday, Monday to Friday, from now on. Just phone them up on the day you want to go and confirm.

Don't go in The Capitol much as I find it upsetting that such a beautiful building is now a completely hole of a drinking den with Sky Sports as its big USP.

However I LOVE the idea of it re-connecting with its heritage, so doing these tours and perhaps a Saturday Morning Pictures or weekly Film Club would be a great way to not only bring more punters in, but rid the place of its "community centre" feel, as someone else put it.
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Monday, 30 October, 2006 - 07:24 am:   

Hi Jo Jo
I agree with your comments about ' community centre 'feel but in my opinion it is still a majot plus to SE 23 over a boarded up wreck that it was.
The more " normal " people who attend will push the balance in the correct direction I feel.
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Monday, 30 October, 2006 - 06:21 pm:   

Tour was great, thanks for letting us know Chaz. I thought concert venue as it reminded me of the Brixton Academy, which of course was once a very ornate cinema. Comments on pub on my Baggy Dave's pub guide, Brian

And as for Steve G for putting us right, well done mate. But watch out if you see two (early) middle aged men with baseball bats coming your way (isn't this how we sort things out South London Stylee?)
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Monday, 30 October, 2006 - 10:15 pm:   

Good work, BaggyDave.

Your reviews are always informative and entertaining. Hopefully a few more contributors will check it out.

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