Costume designer Vicky Russell (pic below) grew up in Notting Hill and comes from a theatrical family which took a great interest in local film and theatre and when The Coronet was threatened with not only closure but was due to be demolished, Russell’s mother was one of the people who saved it. Above is the beautifulpicture she drew at the time. Russell’s father, Ken Russell, was the director of films including Tommy and Women in Love and her mother, Shirley Russell, who won several Baftas and was nominated for an Oscar for the film Reds, was a costume designer. They had a bedsit in Linden Gardens, next door to Celia Britwell. “It was a really interesting time there,” says Russell, whose father made a film of the time called A house in Bayswater, partly based on their life in the house.
The Coronet, now the Print Room at the Coronet, was designed by William George Robert Sprague (1863 – 1933) who was a theatre architect. At one point he built six London Theatre’s in four years, among them Wyndham’s Theatre, Aldwych Theatre and the Geilgud Theatre. Sarah Bernhart and Ellen Terrry were among the great actors who strode the planks of The Coronet which cost £25,000 to build and opened in 1898. In 1916, films were shown at the theatre for the first time, as part of variety programmes mixing live and filmed performance. In 1972, the Rank Organisation planned to demolish the building, but a local campaign based upon its architectural merit and its interesting history secured its survival and refurbishment. In 1977, it was sold by Rank to an independent cinema operator. The new owners replaced the seating in the stalls so as to provide more legroom, reducing total cinema capacity to 399 seats. In 1989, the building was again under threat, but it was protected by a Grade II listing and then in 2004, the Coronet was acquired by the Kensington Temple, a large local Pentecostal church congregation but carried on showing films. Since 2014 it has been the home of the brilliant Print Room theatre. the-print-room