Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Picture Palace
On Monday 18th December 1911, Barber's Electric Picture Palace opened for business with a French silent film called Zigomar. I don't know anything about the film but I am sure the first audience found it very exciting. In those days the films were very short, initially "one-reel" films and the "two reel films". In between films, or changing reels, the Palace used to offer live variety acts. The pianist accompanying the films was Oliver Thorneycroft.
The Palace could seat up to 650 and in the days before television was a great success. Even in the 1950s I can remember the house being packed for Rock Around the Clock with Bill Haley and the Comets, but shortly after that, as television became more popular and affordable, audiences fell sharply and the cinema closed on January 22nd 1961 - a fifty year life.
The photo above can be dated to 1928, because the two featured films, Palais de Danse and Tommy Atkins both came out in that year.
Since that time it has been a bingo hall, a dance hall, a night club and a church. The front canopy over the forecourt area, which was very useful when waiting for buses has long since disappeared.
Today the building looks like this.