Sordid past of Finsbury Park cinema revealed

THE sordid past of a cinema which police began investigating because of alleged sexual activity 100 years ago has been uncovered by a PhD student.

Alex Rock, based at De Montfort University, discovered a police file from 1913 to 1919 logging complaints from movie goers about the raunchy antics at the Rink Cinema in Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, which is now the Rowans Ten Pin Bowl.

The shocking research reveals how the massive 2,500 capacity cinema, which opened in 1913, was kept under police observation during the First World War following reports of indecent behaviour such as gambling, prostitution and “amorous soldiers liaising with loose women”.

Mr Rock said: “A corner of the gallery was painted darker so people could enjoy more privacy and there were lots of reclining seats. The soldiers were with women, hands were going everywhere and sexual acts were occurring - not just heavy petting. The report suggests it was explicit indecent behaviour. The area of Stroud Green Road and Seven Sisters Road was a notorious red light district which may explain the events.”

Mr Rock found the information in the public National Archive Centre in Surrey and presented his study at the recent British Silent Film Festival in the Barbican Centre, Silk Street.


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The Metropolitan Police sent undercover women officers to the venue and the cinema owner was fined �50 - but later had his conviction overturned, according to Mr Rock.

He said: “The file suggests that officers at Holloway Police Station were too friendly with the management and there was an element of police corruption. I couldn’t believe my eyes with this report. It was a fascinating find.

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“You would not expect this behaviour in this period of British history but what was happening in the back row of the Rink Cinema was far worse than what is going on today.”

The cinema became a dance hall in 1948 and is now a ten-pin family bowling alley.

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