Oakdale Picture House

The Square,
Oakdale, NP2

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Interior of Oakdale Picture house

September the 10th 1917 the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute opened in the modern village using the American grid system, the first and only planned village development in the industrial valleys of Gwent (Oakdale is close-by Blackwood).

The ‘Stute’ as it was called, formed the focus of leisure, entertainment and education for the community. An additional concert hall was built behind the ‘Stute’, known as the Lesser Hall, all paid for by contributions from the local miners. In 1927 the Lesser Hall was remodelled and renamed the New Hall Cinema, opening with the film “April Showers”. The New Hall Cinema was always refered to localy as the Picture House.

The cinema was operated and managed by the Institute Cinema Committee who appointed paid staff, a Projectionist and three female attendants with full uniform provided by the Institute. A small orchestra was also engaged to accompany the silent films shown.

The orchestra was dismissed after a few months and in 1929 Madame Templeman became musical director, Mrs Templeman was a stern woman commanding the audiences attention and respect while accompanying the film by piano.

The Picture House continued to function as a regular cinema through to the late-1960’s, competing with cinemas in the nearby town of Blackwood and the surrounding valleys. Although regular performances ceased during the 1960’s, childrens Saturday morning matinees continued successfully through to the early-1970’s.

Towards the mid to late-1970’s, the former Picture House remained part of the ‘Stute’ and was converted into a successful and highly popular concert hall and ballroom, attracting celebrity cabaret acts.

Following the closure of the surrounding collieries, pits, mines the workforce were unable to contribute sufficient funds towards the operation of the ‘Stute’, following closure it was eventually moved brick by brick to St Fagins Welsh Folk Museum in Cardiff as a prime example of a Workmen’s Institute.

The Picture House was demolished, sheltered community housing now stands on the site. Oakdale Stute at St Fagins has recently opened a Picture House within the original building but this is not the original Picture House that once stood alongside Oakdale ‘Stute’.

Contributed by JMBRIGHTON
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