The original building was an auctioneer’s shop owned by a pioneering business woman called Clara Ludski.
She converted it into one of London’s very first cinemas in 1909, and called it the Kingsland Palace of Animated Pictures, this early silent cinema was designed by a young W.E. Trent who went on to be the in-house architect for Gaumont Cinemas. The new fad for moving pictures proved so popular in Dalston that Clara bought up the properties on each side of the building, and commissioned the architect George Coles to design a spectacular purpose built picturehouse.
In 2013, local people were warned to ‘use it or lose it’ as the cinema was in financial crisis. Over £4000 was raised, and the board brought in a new director, Olly Meek. Olly is working with staff and local people to restore and reinvent the cinema to keep it safe for the next century and beyond.
In 2017 the Rio launched its RioGeneration scheme to add a much needed second screen in the unused basement space and restore the exterior and the spectacular night time lighting.