Nottingham Road and Victoria Street,
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In the small Derbyshire town of Somercotes, the Premier Electric Theatre opened on 1st January 1912. Fronting Nottingham Road, at the junction with Victoria Street, it originally held only 300 patrons, but was soon extended to hold over 1,000. George Beastall, a local wines and spirits merchant, was the proprietor, and Charles Lewsley was the projectionist.
The centre of the proscenium arch had a crest containing the initials “A.B.B”. This stood for Annie Bertha Beatsall, the wife of the proprietor, who presided over the cash box and struck fear into anyone who misbehaved! Admission prices were 2d for plain seats, 4d for leather seats and 6d for velvet armchairs, the height of luxury!
When originally built the entrance to the auditorium was through an old-fashioned shop frontage. This was replaced during the 1930’s with a modern frontage. A large cinema for the area it served, the Premier Electric Theatre by now had 1,180 seats, whereas the population of the town was only 5,000.
George Beastall ran the cinema until the mid-1940s, when Goodman Cinemas took over, followed in 1947 by the Ilkeston Cinema Company. The name change to Premier Cinema happened around this time: the 1940 Kinematograph Year Book lists the cinema under its original name; the 1953 edition lists it as simply the Premier (now with 1,000 seats).
CinemaScope was installed in 1954, but the cinema came to a sudden end on 5th November 1960. After it had closed for the night a firework exploded inside and the cinema was gutted by the subsequent fire. Despite plans for a re-opening the Premier Cinema never showed films again. After refurbishment it became a Walkers Bingo hall in 1974. Unfortunately that closed in November 2013.
A rather nice reminder of the building’s cinematic history is the original large sign on the side wall facing Victoria Street proudly proclaiming in stonework “Premier Electric Theatre”.
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