Majestic Cinema

120 Botley Road,
Oxford, OX2 0HH

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Located in the Botley district to the west of the city. This originally opened on 7th November 1930 as the Oxford Ice Skating Rink, the building also contained a ballroom two cafes and a restaurant. It was designed by architect John R. Wilkins. In the summer of 1933 it was temporarily converted into the Rink Cinema, with seating provided for 1,500, and opening on 24th July 1933 with “The Viennese Waltz”. It was equipped with a British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system. It closed on 7th October 1933 with Evalyn Knapp in “Bachelor Mother” and Laurel & Hardy in “Beau Chump” and reverted back to use as an ice skating rink for the winter season.

On 2nd April 1934 it re-opened as the Majestic Cinema with an enlarged seating capacity for 1,900. A new raked floor had been installed and a small balcony had replaced an earlier raised viewing area. The opening film was Mae West in “I’m No Angel”. The cinema also boasted a cafĂ© and dance hall. Although independently owned, it was managed by the Union Cinemas chain, and from October 1937, they were taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain.

The Majestic Cinema was suddenly closed on 11th September 1940 during a run of the Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney film “Babes in Arms”. It was taken over by the Government to house evacuees escaping from the German bombing raids on London. It was used for this purpose until January 1941. Local people hoped it would re-open as a cinema, but this never happened.

The building was used as a hostel, then a Frank Cooper marmalade factory. In later years it became a MFI furniture store. It was demolished in the 1980’s and purpose built retail building were constructed on the site which were occupied by MFI & Halfords.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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