47-49 Station Street,
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The Electric Theatre was opened as a cinema on 27th December 1909 in the centre of the city and has been showing movies almost ever since. Is the Electric Cinema the oldest working cinema in Great Britain? At the moment it seems it is, by just a few months. It was designed by noted ‘live’ theatre architect Bertie Crewe.
In 1921 it was re-named Select Cinema. On 20th March 1937 it changed its name again and became the Tatler News Theatre, and had been given a new facade designed by architect Cecil E.M. Fillmore. In the 1950’s another name change to the Jacey Cartoon Cinema.
During the 1960’s the cinemas programming policy and name changed to the Jacey Film Theatre and specialised in showing “continental” (pornographic) films. In the 1970’s the old Electric became part of the Classic chain of cinemas and maintained its “continental” film programme.
In the 1980’s under a change of ownership and another change of name it became known as the Tivoli Cinema. Another change of ownership in 1993 brought about another change of name, however, this time back to the Electric Cinema and operating as an independent, second run, cinema.
The company owning the Electric Cinema went into liquidation in December 2003. The last film shown was “Kill Bill”. The property was put up for sale but, because of a Preservation Order, the Electric’s destruction was prevented. Because of the Order it couldn’t be converted into offices or apartments.
In the summer of 2004 the lease of the Electric Cinema was sold, the new owner’s intention being to use it as a recording studio. However, the new owners became so enamoured of the building it was decided the interior be restored, the old features being retained, but with the technical innovations of the 21st century installed.
The twist at the end of the tale is that UGC’s Arcadian Multiplex nearby closed in 2003. The 294 seat Electric Cinema continues and on 4th July 2008 a second screen was added. It has digital projection, seating for 78 on black sofa’s and waiter service.
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