In July 2012 Wessex Archaeology was asked to prepared a Historic Building Record for Purelake New Homes.
The Empire Kinema was built in 1913 for Alexander Bernstein by architects Andrews and Peascod. It opened on 15th December 1913 as part of Bernstein/Granada. The building’s architectural style was purposefully plain so that if the venture failed it could be reused as a factory. The cinema was sold to Denham London Theatres (Gaumont) in 1928 when it was renamed the Kinema and refitted for talking pictures. In 1934, the building was extended with a platform stage and staff rooms at the screen end. It was renamed the Century in 1952 but closed in 1960. The majority of cinema related fixtures and fittings were removed and it was reused as a warehouse and training centre. The building was demolished in July 2012 as part of a new residential development.
Planning consent for demolition of the former cinema was granted on the condition that a programme of building recording was undertaken to English Heritage Level 3 as described in 'Understanding historic buildings: a guide to good recording practice'.
The cinema was photographed with a digital SLR camera. It was recorded metrically using a total station linked via Bluetooth to a tablet pc with AutoCad and TheoLt software. Plans and cross sections were produced from the metric data. Documentary research was undertaken at the Greenwich Heritage Centre and London Metropolitan Archives.
The Site has been ‘preserved by record’. The archaeological building record produced is an analytical study of the development of the structure and its context within the cinema industry as well as a record of its state prior to demolition.