Our venue has witnessed nine glorious decades of entertainment and culture. As it reaches the remarkable milestone of 90 years, we take a nostalgic journey through its history and celebrate the legacy that continues to captivate audiences today…
Our story began back in 1933 when Troxy first opened its doors as a grand cinema designed by the renowned architect George Coles. On 11th September, we showed our first ever film, King Kong and became a beloved local landmark. To this day, you’ll see Kong used throughout the venue and in our marketing to pay homage to our roots! We even screened King Kong on our 80th birthday, and punk rocker Siouxsie showed it ahead of her shows with us earlier in September – that’s just how much we love that big Gorilla…
During this era we were named the biggest cinema in the country by all accounts – showcasing movies with stars of the time like Bing Crosby, Charles Bickford, Anita Page, Claudette Colbert and Ginger Rogers to name a few! But for all the stars that appeared on the silver screen in those early days, the real star of the show was the Wurlitzer Organ which used to pop up in the middle of films to surprise guests.
This was originally housed within our sister theatre, the Trocadero cinema in Elephant and Castle, and was then purchased by The Cinema Organ Society for preservation. Located on each side of the proscenium arch behind the ornamental grilles, four organ chambers house the 1,777 pipes! It’s an incredible sight to behold and we still have regular Wultizer event nights to celebrate this iconic sound to this day.
The 1930’s and 1940’s brought us a lot of joy, but also the war – in what was known as “The Longest Night” London was subjected to the worst bombing of The Blitz on May 10th -11th 1941 with hundreds of German aircraft peppering the city with incendiary devices and bombs. The Houses of Parliament, British Museum and many other landmark buildings were hit but although East London suffered badly that night, particularly Stepney, Troxy was saved.
Fast forward, and the swinging 60’s marked the closing of our doors as a cinema and we screened our last movie ‘The Siege of Sydney Street’. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I have tears in my eyes,” confessed our now former manager, Maurice, ahead of the venue closing. “After all, the old Troxy has been quite a place in its time…”
We remained closed for a few years, but we didn’t have to wait long to be given a new lease of life, and that came in the form of the Royal Opera House no less. Troxy was modified into a rehearsal space using an extended stage which was the exact same size as the Royal Opera House stage until 1978. After forming the National Opera Studio, The London Opera Centre closed its doors to be used as storage space until the 90’s.
After a long bout of decay and sitting unloved, we were brought back to life as a Bingo hall by Top rank. We were lavishly decorated and renovated to bring us back into tip top condition, the auditorium was reinstated and new seating in the circle area put into place. Through the 90’s we remained as a Bingo hall, and were taken over by MECCA towards the end of the era – it’s all over when the fat lady sings, as they say!
This is when things really changed for us….
21st Century Showcase
In 2005 we read our last number call and Troxy closed as a bingo hall. After taking the time to bring the venue back to its former glory, we opened it as the live events space you all know and love today…
And wow, have we had some names through our doors over the years! We held our first major public gig back in 2008 with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds who played to a sold out audience. This has been followed by Patti Smith, London Grammar, Robbie Williams, New Order, The Pixies, Kaytranada,The Specials, Fred Again.., Ezra Collective, Diplo – we could go on…
Since we’ve been open as a live events venue, we’ve hosted some of London’s most popular events including Sink the Pink – east London’s most ridiculous gay, drag, queer inclusive, fun party. We’ve been deemed the home of Buttmitzvah – a queer jewish club night, and we’ve also somehow become THE place in London for an all Taylor Swift clubnight- Swiftogeddon.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. We’ve also hosted countless movie premieres, awards dinners – including the Youth Music Awards, BAFTA Games Awards and Festival Awards, charity gala dinners for Comic Relief, a book launch for Sir Richard Brandson himself, and teamed up with the awesome charity War Child helping raise thousands of pounds for charity.
We’ve donned many a christmas tree and sparkles for numerous corporate Christmas parties, built full length cat walks for fashion shows and even made space for a full size boxing ring for our white collar boxing nights.
As we celebrate 90 years of entertainment, our beloved venue continues to evolve and adapt, embracing new technologies and trends while preserving its rich heritage. The venue’s enduring legacy is a testament to the power of live entertainment in bringing people together, fostering creativity, and creating lasting memories.
So here’s to 90 years together, we can’t wait to see what follows…