OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 14, 2016.
Webpage updated: March 14, 2016

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ELECTRIC CINEMA

The Public Hall in Fore Street had been opened back in November 1881.  Following the enactment of the Cinematograph Act 1909 it had been the first place in Devonport to be granted a cinema licence, on January 20th 1910.   The manager was Mr William H Gillman.  Although films were only shown as a part of the concerts held there, they became so popular that in December 1910 it was announced that the Public Hall was now to be known as the "Electric".

The film showing that week was "Life of Christ", which was also being shown at Andrews' Picture Palace.  It was described as 'a Magnificent Coloured Production' with a male choir, orchestra and an organ.  This was the first mention of an organ being used in a Plymouth area cinema show although it had probably been installed when the premises were in use as a public hall.  Prices of admission were 2d, 4d and 6d.

The licence for the Electric passed in January 1912 from Mr W H Gillman to Mr Sydney George Boultwood and then in May 1918 from him to Mr Albert Charles Clements.

On May 30th 1921 the Electric closed for extensive alterations and redecoration.  It reopened on Monday July 4th 1921 with Charlie Chaplin's "Shoulder Arms".  Admission prices were 4d, 5d, 8d and 1s 3d.  In June 1923 a Mr F A Wheeler took over the license from Mr Clements.  The premises were by this time owned by Messrs Electric Theatre (Devonport) Ltd.

Considering that the management of the old Devonport Public Hall had been one of the first in the Borough to apply for a cinema licence one might have expected their successors at the Electric to be quicker at installing sound than they actually were. In fact it was on October 12th 1931 that the cinema was reopened yet again this time with 'increased capacity and comfort'. The film was "Trader Horn" starring Harry Carey as the white hunter and Miss Edwina Booth as the 'white goddess'.

From September 1939 the license was held by Mr A E Taylor, who also held the license for the nearby Forum Cinema.

The Electric Cinema was destroyed in April 1941 during the Blitz.