Our Patch 3
The Curzon Cinema.
The Curzon was one of the few cinemas that I never frequented, I tended to visit those cinemas possibly nearest to where I lived. That was in GroveStreet, just off of Southover Street, as I was being brought up.
There is some confusion regarding the date this cinema opened and so of course its first name. Some records state it opened in January 1907 and was named ‘The Electric Theatre.’ Then, there are other records who state that the opening date was in January 1909 and was called ‘The Electric Bioscope.’ But either way, it soon was re-named ‘The Queens Electric Theatre.’ Again there is no fixed date but suffice to say it was between 1910 –1915. Since that date it was re-named several times and among its names were The Queen’s picture house -1915-1919, The Picturedrome, 1919-1922, the Scala Cinema1922-1932, The Regal Cinema 1932-1936 and The Kurzon Kinema. This name remained right through from 1936-1975. Its final incarnation was as the classic Cinema, which became its name from July1975 until its closure in the autumn of 1979’
Originally only the size of a small shop and seating around 50 people, the boom in cinema going soon enabled it expand its premises and it was then able to seat 250 people. With this expansion they built an orchestra pit which seated almost a full orchestra. Of course this was at a time when ‘Silent Films’ were still given a live soundtrack. It is a matter of record that the ‘talkies’ were resisted by the silent film people, but only for a short time.
However, by the late 1930’s as the Curzon cinema, it had a capacity for an audience of over 650 people, while around 40 years later and as the ‘Classic Cinema, The number of seats was recorded as a total of 597. Its last screening prior to its closing was the film called The Warriors. When the doors finally closed this cinema had been in business for nearly 70 years after it first opened and with an array of different names during those years.
After it closed it was sold to the John Lewis Partnership
A short biography for this Cinema; –
The Cinema was situated at No. 130 Western Road, Brighton. The Cinema operated from 1909 until 1979.
1909 – January 13th;
Opened as the Electric Bioscope in a converted shop by journalist Walter Harold Speer and boasted just 50 seats.
1910 – August ;-
Expands into neighbouring shop and increases into 250 seats and is then re-named Queens Electric Theatre, complete with lovely upholstered seats, dimmable auditorium lights, curtain revealing the screen. ‘Hygienic’ fan ventilation and an orchestra. These alterations were made by Thomas Garratt, admission to the balcony was one shilling (5p in our money today) to the ‘Area’ or the Promenade it cost 3 pence (1p our money today.) The signs over the entrances read ‘continuous performances. Daily from 3 till 10 and come in when you like, no waiting. It is also open on Sundays. Tea lounge.
Walter Harold Speer moves into production with Brighton and country Film Company. The cinema was sold to Mrs. A. W. L. Deer, who forms Queens Montpelier Electric Theatre Ltd.
The cinema was re-named Queens Picture Theatre.
The cinema was again re-named to Picturedrome, it appears to have taken this name when a cinema, with that name in Edward Street was re-named the Majestic.
The Cinema was acquired by George Beyfus of Tivoli Enterprises (Hove) Ltd. They also owned the nearby Tivoli cinema. This in turn was re-named the Scala Cinema.
1930; – March –
The cinema was equipped with RCA Photophone sound system, that was after resisting the sound films and displayed a slogan ‘No talkies here.’
The cinema was acquired by the Regal Cinema Company Ltd. Then once again renamed, this time to the Regal Cinema.
Another change of name, this time to Curzon Kinema, at this time it was also remodelled in the Art Deco style by James Morrison, It was also fitted with 656 seats including the balcony.
The prices of admission were now 10 pence to 2s.3p. and still advertised as ‘continuous performances.’ It was still owned by the Regal Cinema Co/Harry Jacobs, (who had also acquired the Tivoli Cinema, Hove that year.)
The cinema was listed in the Kinematograph Yearbook as owned by K.A.Nyman of 36, Manor House Drive. LondonNW6 and booked from there. The prices of admission were now 1s. and 3s.
The cinema had another change of ownership, now owned by Eric R. Mills of Kinetours Ltd.
– It was listed in the Kinematicgraph Yearbook as owned by Kinetours Ltd. London and booked from there. The admission prices were now 1s and 3s 6p. At this time it was fitted with a Cinemascope screen measuring 22 x 11 feet.
Maintenance work was carried out on the whole building between that date and 1965 by D. E. Burtenshaw Ltd. A local building and decorating firm.
The prices of admission was increased to 1s6p – 3s 6p.
1965; – September
.The cinema was acquired by Classic Cinemas Ltd.
The prices were once again increased to 4s6p and 5s 6p, A Proscenium 28ft. screen – 22ft x 9ft 9 inches.
Yet another change of name, this time to the Classic Cinema with an increase of seats to 597. It advertised three shows daily with one change weekly.
Operating an Art House programming policy.
1979; – August 31st.