Investigation after 'deliberate' fire started at historic abandoned cinema

Fire crews were called to a blaze at the iconic State Cinema in Grays
-Credit: (Image: William Smith)

An investigation is ongoing after a "deliberate" fire was started at the historic State Cinema in Grays. Firefighters were called to the scene on Thursday (July 4) evening following reports of a fire.

On arrival, crews confirmed it was the Old Cinema that was affected. Firefighters extinguished the fires and made the scene safe by shortly after 8pm. The incident was left with Essex Police, who have been contacted for further information. The cause was recorded as deliberate.

The art-deco cinema has been an icon of Grays since it opened back in 1938 and lies just off the main high street. At full capacity, it could hold 2,200 people and often utilised the large capacity and stage for theatre shows and community events.

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State Cinema was so iconic that it even featured in films like Ghostbusters and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. It sits between the Morrisons supermarket and restaurants based in the town centre, with its tall tower looking over the shopping centre.

Different plans to bring the site back to life have been proposed over the years. One of those included converting the famous venue into a Wetherspoons pub. The iconic pub company bought the site in 2015 but in 2022 those proposals were scrapped.

A spokesperson for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: "Firefighters were called to State Lane, Grays on 4 July at 7.24pm. On arrival, crews confirmed that it was the Old Cinema which had multiple seats of fire. Firefighters extinguished the fires and made the scene safe by 8.07pm and left the incident with the police. The cause was recorded as deliberate."