In the Autumn number of 'Local Past' we asked for information about local cinemas. Mr.F.R. Horton of Studley - has kindly replied.
A cinema was opened in what was called the 'Public Hall' just after the First World War. This was erected in 1889 and was situated near the top of bell Lane behind the present Liberal Club. The picture-house was owned by Mr. Joe Washboume with the name of 'The Imperial cinema'. Mr. Joe and his son Jack, ran it. The Washboumes were undertakers, painters and builders, among other things. Mr. Alec Dyer, who worked for them, became the projectionist.
During the period until 1930, silent films were shown, with a Saturday afternoon matinee . Tom Mix cowboy films often featured in these matinees.
Talkies arrived early in 1931 and I remember as a small boy that the first talking picture shown was 'Sunny Side Up', with Janet Gaynor. The films the 'Imperial' usually put on were from Warner Brothers, featuring such stars as James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Bette Davies -- until 1937, when films from other studios were shown. The electric power for the cinema at this time was provided by a gas engine driving a dynamo.
Opposite the cinema were the two tennis courts of Studley Tennis Club. About l936/7 the cinema was taken over by Mr. Frank Lolton and its interior was improved, as were the films shown. Mr. Eric Lamb was the doorman for a number of years; he looked after the behaviour of the younger children and very often chased them round the cinema. Th seating accommodation consisted of approx. 200 seats downstairs at 4d for children and 6d for adults and the balcony consisted of 60 seats at 6d for children and 1/- for grown-ups.
When the War started Mr Reeve took over the management. Shows continued during the Blitz in l940. I remember when one gentleman who had been in the Coventry blitz in the previous week came to the cinema with my WO friends and myself and an air-raid warning was flashed on the screen. The next minute a 500 lb bomb landed in the orchard next to the cinema (where the fire station now is). The whole place shuddered, with people screaming but it remained intact. Just after the start of the War -the name had been changed to 'The Cosy'. After the War Mr. Jack Luty owned the cinema and ran it with his wife until about 1950; it finally closed about 1960.
Winter 1990 Index
© Alcester & District Local History Society 1991