Image: corner of 29 George St, Richmond, showing *WB monogram on pediment
Assorted facts drawn from Cinema Treasures; National Science and Media Museum; http://www.therichmondlodge2032.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Richmond-Lodge-History.pdf
In 1896, brothers Alfred and Harold Wright opened a draper’s shop at 29 George Street, Richmond. The shop grew to become a small department store which became incorporated as *Wright Brothers Ltd in 1929. In 1940 Wright Brothers was purchased by a department store in Kingston called Hide & Co. Ltd who ran it as a subsidiary company. Hide & Co. Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, was acquired by House of Fraser in 1975. A branch of Tesco Metro now occupies the building.
The Queen’s Hall, a couple of minutes’ walk away in its day via The Quadrant and The Square, was originally built in 1900 as a Freemasons Club.
(The Freemasons’ Richmond Lodge met at the Station Hotel, Richmond from March 1884 to May, 1888, when it was transferred to the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained except for short periods at the Star and Garter Hotel, Kew Bridge, the Castle Hotel, Richmond, and Hotel Cecil, London, until January, 1901, when it moved to the Freemasons Club in Sheen Road, Richmond. Meetings were regularly held there until October, 1909, when once again the Lodge made its home at the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained – except for one meeting at the Holborn Restaurant, London – until 1954, when it removed to its new home in The Parkshot Rooms. The Lodge continued to dine at the (enlarged) Station Hotel, the first home of the Lodge.)
The auditorium had a small stage with a proscenium and was used for many different types of entertainment. In 1911, the Hall was converted so that it could also be used for the new Wright Brothers Bioscope film showings.
Bioscope became a word increasingly interchangeable with moving pictures. Michael Chanan, in his book The Dream That Kicks, talks of ‘Bioscope teas’:
‘Bioscope teas were particularly popular at the New Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where in 1908 the lady from the suburbs could pause in her afternoon’s shopping, and for a shilling enjoy a “dainty cup of tea and an animated display”.’
It also became increasingly widely used in naming and advertising moving picture companies and their shows.
The hall had many names during its cinematic life and after, including The Pictorial Hall / the New Pavilion / Inman’s Club (in 1921 it was converted into a billiards hall). In 1938 it was put into use as a servicemen’s club and canteen for the war. In 1944, it was converted into the Richmond Community Centre. Occasional film use continued into the 1950’s when the Richmond Film Society held screenings in the hall. It was eventually demolished in 1986; a Waitrose supermarket now stands on the site.