Picture House

102 Above Bar,
Southampton,
Southampton, SO14 7DT

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In the 1920’s this was the most luxurious cinema for the costal port city of Southampton. Located in the heart of the shopping center, the Picture House had 1,200 seats downstairs while the balcony housed 400. It opened on 24th May 1920 with Mary Pickford in “The Ragamuffuin”

Designed by Frank Matcham with ornately painted pictures on the walls by artist George Ruston, the cinema also hosted a cafe plus a tea garden on the roof with lovely views of the town’s parks. The tables lampshades were made of calfskin and live music was by W.G. Griggs offering dance selections from 7pm-9pm.

Sound was installed in 1929 with an Eddy Peabody "shortie" and, to add to your enjoyment, afternoon tea was served at your seat. The Picture House bragged as having entertained Royalty and was always a popular place to meet for refreshments and a show.

The final film programme was Chester Morris in "Wagons Westward," and John King in “Midnight Limited” which was cut short by a Nazi bomb attack on the city on 23rd November 1940. With a shortage of raw materials and excessive costs to rebuild, this luxury cinema never entertained its loyal patons ever again.

Contributed by Simon Overton
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