Our Story

1848. The first building on the Genesis site opens a pub called Lusby's, which became a music hall.

1884. Lusby's is destroyed by fire, and architect Frank Matcham hired to design its replacement.

1885. Paragon Theatre of Varieties opens, the best-ventilated theatre in London and host to stars of the era like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy.

1912. The theatre became a cinema and changed hands and names many times before going dark in 1989.

1963. ROYAL PREMIERE 'SPARROWS CAN'T SING' Princess Margeret was scheduled to attend the royal premiere of Barbara Windsor's film Sparrows Can't Sing. However, as notorious East End gangsters, The Kray twins were also attending, royal protocol meant that her husband Lord Snowdon had to attend in her place. So, needless to say, everyone ended up at the afterparty at the pub over the road... the Kray twins' Kit Kat Club.

1998. AND SO IT BEGINS... Born under the Bow Bells and an electrician by trade, Tyrone Walker-Hebborn could not ignore his love of entertainment, especially when a trip to the US served as an introduction to the world of the multiplex. When Tyrone was shown the cinema for the first time, he was hooked despite the hole in the roof on screen 1. Now helping out in the family roofing business, that was only a minor detail. When Tyrone took his dad Robert to show him the building and the hole in the roof in screen 1, Robert pointed to a couple of seats and said: ‘That’s where me and your mum used to sit.’ It turns out they'd done all their courting at the cinema in the 1960s. And, because of their love for the cinema, they had named Tyrone and his brother after two 1930s film stars, Tyrone Power and Spencer Tracy.

1999. GENESIS CINEMA OPENS Fittingly named Genesis, a new beginning for the Walker-Hebborns and a new start for cinema in the East End. Honestly? It’s called Genesis because Tyrone is a massive Trekkie. In The Wrath of Khan, they use an evil device called Genesis. The cinema opens with great fanfare, including special guest Barbara Windsor, who was last at the cinema for the Royal Premiere of her film Sparrows Can't Sing.

2001. BIRTH OF THE EAST END FILM FESTIVAL Always supporting the arts, after being presented with a host of short films and nowhere to watch them, Tyrone took this as an opportunity to start a short film night at Genesis. Together with the support of Sarah Wren from Tower Hamlets Film Office and John Tobin from Raindance Film Festival, the Genesis short film night morphed into the East London Film Festival with Tyrone, Sarah Wren and John Tobin as its founders. The Festival was first held at Genesis, eventually becoming East End-wide and the naughty alternative to the London Film Festival.

2011. STUDIOS 4 & 5 Wanting to create a more luxurious Genesis experience, Tyrone and his dad Robert ripped out the 100 seats in Studio 5 and replaced them with 40 seats and another screen. Tyrone asked Robert to come back and see the results of his hard work, but he was reluctant, He was deaf, and the cinema experience wasn't like it used to be for him. There was no stopping Tyrone. He found the perfect film for the occasion, The Artist, which took the world by storm on release even though it was black and white and silent. Robert and Tyrone's mum, Christine, were treated to their own special screening in Studio 5, enjoying a bottle of wine together on the sofas with their feet up on the footrests. Robert had never been one to congratulate Tyrone, but he proudly claimed it to have been 'one of the best nights ever' after the screening. After that, they made it a regular thing to come to Studio 5.

2012. GENESIS MAKEOVER Tyrone and the family refurbished the cinema and were able to create the version they'd always wanted.

2012. POETRY SLAM Tyrone visited a dodgy pub in Hackney in a cold, smelly, horrible back room on pop-up chairs with beer in plastic glasses, wondering what he was doing there. Next thing, a man walks up, did a headstand and announced he was a yoga poet and recited a poem upside-down, a performance which inspired the Poetry Slams that Genesis then went on to host. The talent was top notch and converted Tyrone and his Mum to poetry, which they never thought would ever happen! The Genesis Poetry Slam is the only free 3-round poetry slam in London and has hosted winners including Hammer & Tongue who went on to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

2020.  WHAT PANDEMIC? A dark era for cinema when COVID shut venues for the only time since WWII. Tyrone and the team didn’t stand still, they refurbished screen 1 with new seating, extended the Kiosk, updated their branding and opened The Yard, an outside eating and drinking area.


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