Bohemia Picture Theatre

70 Bohemia Road,
St. Leonards-on-sea, TN37 6RQ

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Bohemia Picture Theatre/ Bohemia Electric Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in St. Leonards-On-Sea, East Sussex. What was at one time Europe’s smallest public Cinema opened on Saturday, 27th January, 1912.

The auditorium was a converted first floor bedroom and the front of the building, where 25 people could sit on five benches. Films were screened from the attic, through a hole in the ceiling and onto a tilted screen.

The three week old newsreels were supplied by Gaumont Graphic and it is the earliest known British cinema to present a Saturday Morning Children’s Cinema Club, the first of which was presented a week after its opening on, Saturday, 3rd February, 1912.

In general the Bohemia Electric Theatre was nothing more than an early news theatre and the average performance last 30 minutes, which was the only way the venue had any chance of making a profit. After a few months, the cinema was shut and the owners, the pompously titled Imperial Cinematograph Company was broke.

However, all was not lost and the Cinema was taken over by a Mr Preston, who had a number of businesses in the Bohemia area. The auditorium was extended to the entire length of the first floor and 50 tip-up seats were installed. It reopened as the Bohemia Picture Theatre and introduced the advertising slogan: “The Red Front Picture Hall”

Preston too was unsuccessful and the cinema closed at the end of December 1912. It was one of three cinemas within yards of each other, with over ten more cinemas operating within half a mile, this, along with its tiny capacity, didn’t really give it a chance.

Over the years it has been a Spar Shop, Lullabuys Pram Shop and now forms part of a Costcutter. A skylight that was once used by the projectionist is still visible more than a century on.

Contributed by Nick Prince
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