Theatre One Cinema

Ford Street & Cox Street,
Coventry, CV1

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Theatre One Cinema

Located to the east of the city centre. The Alexandra Picturedrome was opened on 16th January 1917. The front of the building had previously been a coffee tavern in which the first meeting of the Coventry Labour Party had taken place. The 800-seat auditorium was built at the rear and contained seating stalls and circle levels.

It was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system, and played its first ‘talkie’ Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool” on 29th April 1929. It was then re-named Alexandra Theatre. In 1934 it was taken over by the Philpot Circuit.

The Alexandra Theatre was closed by German bombing of Coventry in 1940, and repairs were carried out and it re-opened on 15th January 1941 with Billy Burke in “Peggy”. It had been sold to the Orr Circuit. In 1955 it was equipped with CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound, and played “The Robe” starring Richard Burton.

The Alexandra Theatre was closed on 22nd November 1969, to be modernised to the plans of architects Benet & Leech, and it re-opened as the Theatre One Cinema on 28th March 1970 with Nicol Williamson in “The Reckoning”. Most of the fa├žade of the building had been clad in metal sheeting. On 27th December 1971 the auditorium was twinned, creating a screen in the former stalls and another screen in the former circle. In 1974, the stalls auditoum was split into two screens, making a triple-screen cinema, which had seating provided for 230 (former circle), 140 & 153 in the former stalls.

In 1978, the Theatre One Cinema played “Star Wars” first run in Coventry, beating the major chains in the city. In September 1978, the foyer was damaged in an arson attack, but the cinema only lost one performance.

In June 1979, the Orr Circuit offered the building ‘For Sale’. It was purchased in 1981 by the then manager Brian Saunders and three other local businessmen. The Theatre One Cinema was closed in 1997.

It later became a nightclub, which closed in 2012. The building has been purchased by a property developer, with a view to demolish and build student housing on the site. In late-2013, a local group was set up with a view to purchase the building and re-open it as a cinema and for community use, but by early-2014, they had failed to find sufficient funds, and demolition seems likely to happen.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Ian on February 23, 2014 at 8:12 am

A photo of Theatre One in 1995:–


JohnGn on January 6, 2018 at 1:46 am

The Alexandra closed on Saturday 22nd November 1969. It reopened as Theatre One on Saturday28th March 1970, the opening film being The Reckoning starring Nicol Williamson.

JohnGn on January 11, 2018 at 7:23 am

Theatre One opened as twin cinemas on 27th December 1971. The opening films were “Scrooge” starring Albert Finney in Cine One and “The Tales of Beatrix Potter” in Cine Two. The previous Friday, the Coventry Evening Telegraph published an adverting feature on the new cinemas with adverts from various distributors. In the accompanying article, there is an interesting comment that when the Alexandra was reconstructed as Theatre One, the cinema had obtained from the Monopolies Commission a ruling that it should receive 12 ½ % of ABC and Rank releases. Apparently it was the first independent cinema in the country to be given a share of the major circuit releases.

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