The Olympic Studios on Church Road have a hugely important place in rock history. The roll call of artists who recorded there is stellar and ranges from extraordinary female vocalists - Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Bjork, to incredible guitarists - Eric Clapton, and the best of British rock groups, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Oasis and many more.
Sadly the studios were closed by owners EMI in February 2009. However the building now has a new lease of life having been returned to one of its original uses as a cinema.
The building originally called Byfeld Hall was completed in 1906 and was used as a concert hall and a venue for theatricals, dances, concerts, whist drives, meetings and children's parties. From 1910 the hall operated as the Cinematograph Threatre which opened on June 4 with a programe including views of King Edwards VII's funeral. For the next fifteen years the hall went under various names including Barnes Cinema, New Byfeld Picture Hall and Barnes Picture House. In the 1920s it became a rather edgy and avante garde (for the times!) theatre, which sadly failed and the building reverted to being a cinema bearing wonderfully evocative names such as the Ranelagh (1931-41), the Plaza (1951) and finally the Vandyke (1952).
The cinema (like many others) closed down in the 1950s unable to compete with huge West End screens. However the rise in popularity of small art house cinemas recently means that Barnes now once again has its own local cinema, complete with café and restaurant, and one with an incredible history too.