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One of the first of the English Atmospheric style cinemas, the Alhambra Cinema was (not uncommonly) an eclectic mix of styles.
The foyer, with its mosaic floor, was Egyptian, the cafe considered Algerian whilst the auditorium was based on the Moorish Palace at Granada in Spain!
Bronze lanterns with intricate patterns provided the lighting whilst a large plaster sun dominated the plain barrel vaulted ceiling. The side walls were arched and contained stencilled scenes. The rectangular proscenium was flanked by marble columns in a Moorish style (with a domed ‘temple’ either side serving as an exit) and very richly draped.
Opened on 26th December 1928, the first film was Matheson Long in “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. The cinema had a 50 feet wide proscenium and there was an orchestra of eight musicians in the orchestra pit.
It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) from 1st April 1930, and the spectacular decor over the years was largely painted over.
The Alhambra Cinema closed on 31st August 1968 with Sophia Loren in “The Fall of the Roman Empire”. It re-opened for several years, operating as an Asian cinema screening Bollywood films. When demolition was proposed in 1974, there was not much opposition – just another old, tatty cinema right?
The grim reaper visited the theater and a school now occupies the site of this once grand cinema palace.
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