Electric Theatre

25-27 Commercial Road,
Bournemouth, BH2

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In early-July 1910, two premises located at 25 and 27 Commercial Road were converted into the Electric Theatre and this operated under the ownership of the Popular Bioscope Syndicate of London until early-1921.

Due to increased business, it was decided to build a new cinema on the site. The old building was demolished and a new Electric Theatre seating 1,400 in stalls and circle areas was designed by the noted theatre architectural firm Frank Matcham & Company. It opened on 22nd December 1921 and was built by Alexander Bernstein’s building company and Sydney Bernstein was on the board of directors of the operating company. The cinema was equipped with an attractive cafe which served teas and also a roof tea garden for use in the summer months. Initially a 15-piece orchestra accompanied the silent films but by 1922 a 1Manual/11Stop Hill, Norman & Beard straight organ had been installed to add to the experience.

The Electric Theatre was leased out to QTS from September 1927 until 1st January 1929. The organ was removed when talkies arrived and some of the parts were used to build the Christie 2Manual/9Ranks theatre organ which replaced it in 1931. The Electric Theatre undergone some alterations and modifications in July 1930, to the designs of noted cinema architect Cecil Masey.

The Electric Theatre was owned by the independent Capital & Counties Theatres Ltd and was booked at the Regent Theatre, Poole. The Christie organ was played regularly until 1954 when due to a woodworm infestation, it was considered beyond repair.

The Electric Theatre closed on 2nd March 1966 with Burt Lancaster in "The Hallelujah Trail". It has now been demolished.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

HowardBHaas on December 4, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Ken for adding this cinema to this website today. Scroll down to page 16 for a vintage photo of the auditorium facing the stage. Curtain looks a bit Art Deco to me, so this might be a 1931 photo.

dericbotham on December 15, 2009 at 2:20 am

Thank you for this information. I used to visit this cinema as a child and saw Ben Hur there in 1959. It was a really lovely theatre but now sadly replaced by a very mediocre shopping centre.

primolux on April 11, 2012 at 6:21 am

At closure the projection equipment was an eclectic mixture of old and new. Two Westar projectors each operating on an ancient W.E.Universal base. Surprisingly they were one of the first cinemas to install BTH’s new at the time xenon lamp houses which initially gave endless trouble, particularly their reluctance to strike the lamp. Possibly they were over engineered since all the troubles were remedied when a BTH engineer attended and proceeded to cut and remove large quantities of wiring and components from both lamp houses. After a short trial he bidded adieu to the projection staff,with the words ‘Should be all right now’.

coombesmeister on February 27, 2014 at 6:45 am

always remember queing to see the Tales of Hoffman as a young lad thinking it was a sword fighting adventure, imagine the digust on dicovering it was a ballet film, left after a few minutes

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