OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: April 23, 2018
Webpage updated: April 23, 2018

        

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ANDREWS' PICTURE PALACE

Plans for a new Picture Palace in Union street, Plymouth, were approved in May 1910, when the projected cost was given as 15,000.  On July 20th 1910 the licence was granted to Mr Arthur Harry Andrews. This 'Magnificent New Picture Palace' run by  'Andrews World Renowned Pictures' opened its doors on Monday August 1st 1910 with prices ranging from 3d in the pit to two shillings in the balcony for '2 Hours' Continuous and Refined Entertainment'. It had taken only twelve weeks to demolish the old building and erect the new.

The cinema was one of many owned by Arthur and Horace Andrews, whose company, Andrews Pictures Ltd, traded from Cine House, 49 Greek Street, London.  Its general manager was a Mr Charles Gaston while Mr Mont Gilpin was the resident manager. The orchestra was led by Mr Coppyn Baxter and the vocalist was Miss Margaret Payne.

The main facade of Andrews' Picture Palace in Union Street, Plymouth, was faced with Portland cement and was elaborately enriched and moulded.  The central pediment reached a height of about forty feet and surmounting this gable was an illuminated figure of Atlas bearing a globe, which was the owner's trademark.  The whole front was outlined with electric lamps.

Two shops flanked the entrance.  After passing under the lofty central archway there was a circular vestibule giving access to the main hall and the staircase leading to the balcony.  The moulded ceiling was set-off by the green painted woodwork while the other decorations were in buff or deep red.

The main hall itself was 140ft long, by 44ft wide, and 35ft high and naturally had a sloping floor. The screen measured 30ft wide by 25ft high. The ceiling was arranged in a semi-circular or barrel form, with elaborately enriched subsidiary arches flanking the side walls and growing into the main ceiling arch. At the rear of the hall was the balcony, also fitted with stepped seating of 'the most up-to-date and comfortable character'. Altogether, some 1500 people could be accommodated, for which even tea rooms had been provided.

Local enterprise played a conspicuous part in the work. The architects were Messrs Thornley, Rooke and Barron of 11 The Crescent, Plymouth, while the general building contract was carried out by Mr W Blake, also of Plymouth.  The electric lighting was by Mr Corse of Union Street, who was to become so enthused by the cinema that he later opened one of his own.

Films shown at the opening performance included "Buffalo Hunting in Indo-China", "Tongue of Scandal", "Cow-puncher's Ward", "Fruits of Vengeance" and "Hubby's Triumph". The stories were related by a person termed the 'lecturer', a Mr T Jones.

The Andrews brothers were more involved in the industry than merely owning cinemas. On Saturday November 11th 1910 they filmed the laying of the foundation stone of Saint Martin's Church at Peverell and this was soon advertised as being for hire.  By then the brothers were claiming to have 'the Most Magnificent Picture Theatre of the West'.

For some reason at the beginning of 1911 the licence passed to Mrs E Linsdell but Plymouth liked to issue its licences to the "actual and responsible managers" so by the end of the year it had been transferred to the manager, Mr Auguste Denton, who held it until 1915 when it passed firstly to a Mr William Gregory and then to Mr Herbert Cecil Fontaine before settling in 1917 back with Mr Horace Edward Andrews.  After a couple of minor licensees, it passed in 1922 to Mr Jack Barclay Binmore and in 1925 from him to Mr G Kasoni.

At the end of 1918 Andrews's Picture House claimed the first showing in Great Britain of the Charlie Chaplin/First National film "Shoulder Arms" for the week commencing December 2nd.  Matinees were played every day that week.  This four-reel film starred not only Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin but also Sydney Chaplin, Charlie's brother.  Other members of the cast were Henry Bergman and Albert Austin.  The First World War had not yet ended so this story of a soldier in the trenches dreaming of winning the war all on his own was well received at the time.

In early September 1919 Andrews Picture Palace was showing "The Ocean Waif" with Carlyle Blackwell and Doris Kenyon as well as Part 8 of "Adventures Among the Cannibals".  The programme ran from 2 until 10.15pm.

At the beginning of March 1929 it was announced by Messrs Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Company that they had definitely decided to build a new 'super kinema' to seat 2,000 people on the site of Andrews' Picture House.  At the start of July 1929 the licence was transferred to a Mr J J Deeny.

The last advertisement for the Andrews' Picture Palace was published on Thursday October 2nd 1930.   The building was replaced by the Gaumont Palace Cinema.