Re-Opening of ‘The National’ in Kilburn Attracts a Record Crowd

Christian Church, Christian faith, Listed building, manager of the building, wider local community,

Tuesday 21st August 2012

Despite the fact that there are near-empty pews in hundreds of churches up and down the land, the newly refurbished UCKG HelpCentre in ‘The National’ in Kilburn welcomed 1,200 people to its re-opening services on Saturday August 18th.

The occasion marked the completion of work on the main auditorium, which forms part of a £2 million programme of structural, aesthetic and layout improvements to the Grade II listed iconic former cinema.

“We were delighted with the turn-out,” said Pastor Jorge Barros who is in charge of the HelpCentre.  “In one day we had as many people attending as we normally do for a whole week’s services, setting a new record for us.

“I have no doubt that people were keen to see how we have improved ‘The National’, which was built by Edward A Stone in 1914 and in its day was the largest cinema in Europe, seating 2028.  From the comments we received, everyone was impressed with what is now a stunning new auditorium.”

The project was started after a structural report revealed extensive damage to part of the foundations due to the ingress of water from a broken main, which went undetected for many years.  The north east corner of the roof also needed urgent attention and the mechanical systems had to be upgraded to modern standards for greater energy efficiency and economy.

At the same time, the UCKG HelpCentre took the opportunity to reveal the ornate ceiling of the main auditorium, which had been hidden by a massive lighting rig for decades.

In addition there was significant redesigning of the internal layouts to maximise usability. A secondary auditorium has been restored along with a children’s area, baptism area and external works. Work on various listed features including the façade, is still ongoing.

Pastor Carlos Oliveira, manager of the building and maintenance department which was responsible for the refurbishment work said: “Tremendous thanks are due to all our fund-raisers whose good work enabled the project to progress so quickly thus far.

“This was important for Health & Safety reasons and so that we could better serve our full congregation, the wider local community and the youth and other special interest groups we run at this HelpCentre.  We still have a considerable way to go and need everyone’s continuous financial support.”

Donations should be sent to Fundraising Department, UCKG Office Suites, 24 Coleridge Road, London N4 3NP or online at


Note to editors:

The conservation team

The UCKG HelpCentre employed structural engineers Heyne Tillett Steel, of Clerkenwell because of their design-led approach and innovative use of materials.  Both the architects, Studio 30 Architects, and building contractors, Euro Build Contractors Ltd, were selected on the strength of their specialist knowledge of ecclesiastical buildings.

The building

The National, Kilburn is easily recognised by its distinctive dome.  Once the largest cinema in Europe it had varied past as a club and dance hall, and a church of another denomination before being converted into a UCKG HelpCentre.

The UCKG HelpCentre

The UCKG is a Christian church and registered charity that offers a range of practical support activities alongside spiritual support and comfort and welcomes all-comers.  It reached the UK in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength, providing support and spreading the Christian faith.

For further information contact the UCKG HelpCentre Press Officer via e-mail on or call 020 7686 6033.

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