OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

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

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WOLSELEY CINEDROME

In June 1921 a Mr Charles Henry Smale took over the licence for the 350-seater Camel's Head Cinedrome and by the November it had been renamed the Wolseley Cinedrome because it was situated in Wolseley Road.

Its licence then passed from Mr Charles Smale to Mr Henry Watts, and then to Mr E W Price.   From him it was transferred to Mr Leslie F Taylor but it was not renewed in June 1927 as it should have been which suggests it may have been closed. However, on December 14th 1927 it was again licensed, this time to a Miss Constance Phillips although the proprietor was still given as Mr Taylor.

An anonymous correspondent in the Evening Herald recalled that the first three rows of seats were wooden benches but that 'the magic of the "flicks" overcame any physical discomfort'. Mr Taylor used to play the violin, the piano and the drums to accompany the silent films.  There were only evening performances.

During 1929 the licence passed to a Mr W T Bartlett. It was at this time that the "talkies" arrived at Camel's Head in the form of the film "Dark Red Roses", a suburban love triangle story starring Stewart Rome, Frances Doble, Hugh Eden, Una O'Connor, Kate Cutler, Sydney Morgan and Jack and Jill Clayton.

Sound reproduction was by means of Mihaly sound on film equipment.  The cost for a single amplification and speaker system, suitable for halls of up to 600 seat capacity, was 280.  One of the features of this equipment was that its newly designed soundheads had mechanical filters which smoothed out "flutter" or "ripple" in reproduction set up by irregular projector progression.

The Wolseley Cinedrome was unlicensed in mid-1931 but by 1932 it was evidently open again (if indeed it ever closed) and was licensed in the name of its owner, Mr J F Stephens.  It finally succumbed to the competition sometime during late 1934 or early 1935, when the 78-minute long British Lion film "On the Air" apparently formed the final programme.

It is thought that the premises were next used as a garage.   Certainly, when the Second World War broke out a more useful purpose was found for it.  On September 11th 1940 the Council accepted a tender of 498 from builder Mr J W Spencer for the conversion of the the premises into an Auxiliary Fire Service and Police sub-station.   The premises were taken from Messrs H & G Simonds Ltd, brewers, on a 7-years lease terminable at the end of the War by 3 months notice.