Could the iconic Grand Pavilion Cinema be repurposed as a music venue?

The Rolling Stones performing at the Granada in 1964
The Rolling Stones performing at the Granada in 1964

Local music mogul David Stopps wants the council to rethink plans to knock down the iconic high modernist building.

The iconic high frontage of the Aylesbury building stands out between several charity shops and cafe's on Aylesbury's High Street.

Cliff Richard meets a fan

Cliff Richard meets a fan

The building is even immortalised in Roald Dahl's iconic book, Mathilda: "My mother goes to Aylesbury every afternoon to play bingo.”

The building originally opened in 1925 as The Grand Pavilion Cinema.

It was taken over by the Granada Theatre chain in November 1946 and renamed simply Granada a year later.

The Granada closed in 1972 and the premises was converted into a Granada Bingo Club.

The Granada back in its heyday

The Granada back in its heyday

Gala Bingo took over in May 1991.

The plan for the site is to create an additional new entrance to the Exchange Street car park, this time leading from the High Street.

David Stopps said: "Last year we lost two iconic entertainment venues. The Britannia on Buckingham Road and the Odeon cinema. This is the only one left really in town apart from the Waterside - but that's a different beast entirely.

"I think it's incredibly important we save this building and re-purpose it as a multi purpose entertainment venue. What the town is really missing is a mid-sized music venue. We have sites like the amazing Dukes, and the Ex Serviceman's club on Walton street - but these venues hold about 200-250 people.

"The Granada could easily hold about 700 to 800 people, which is the perfect size to attract new and upcoming bands.

"It's what's missing in town and what could help reignite the local music scene.

David concedes it would take a giant effort from the Council and investors, but says we'd be looking at the model of the 02 in Oxford, a hugely successful venue.

"We need something like the old civic centre, a multipurpose venue with two or three rooms. One of them could even be for bingo to placate the bingo fans who must be bitterly disappointed.

The bingo hall is reminiscent of Dr Who’s tardis, it's narrow frontage on the High Street, opening up into a massive space that seems to go back forever, and even harbours an upstairs.

It is an important part of music history, as it's the only time the Rolling Stones played as a four piece band. It was an extremely foggy night and Brian Jones (who tragically died 5 years later 3 July 1969) got lost in the fog. Support was American legends The Ronettes who also arrived late because of the fog and went straight on stage from the bus in their street clothes.

George Entecott, who started the petition to save the building said: "It seems a shame that we are losing all of Aylesbury's history. We lost the police station and the beautiful old Odeon cinema recently which was a real shame.

"I'm not trying to stem 'progress' of the town - I just think we should take a bit more glory in our history and keep these beautiful and unique building.

"These buildings are an important part of our heritage, to repurpose this site as a music venue would be a fantastic move and maybe give the town the CPR it so desperately needs.

"My proposal is to ask Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County Council to delay their planned demolition of the building and allow time to find investment in the building to allow it to continue to be used.

"This building is in current use so could be converted to a multipurpose public venue at a reasonable cost.

"I believe that Aylesbury’s existing music scene, and with the planned housing growth in the town, will be sufficient to support this venue and it could become a true asset to the town. A medium sized venue at this location would be fantastic for promoters such as Friars to hold events in, as the cost of hire would be less than hiring Waterside Theatre but there would be sufficient capacity to make booking decent acts more economical.

"Please support this petition to help protect our heritage, build a stronger community and build upon our music scene!"

To sign the petition, please visit: https://bit.ly/2CDgBTQ