by Joe Earp
The very first time Beeston witnessed its first experience of the motion picture, was during the early years of the 1900s. Waller Jeffs came to the Town with his travelling show. Jeff’s show consisted of bands, light opera, dramatic lighting and sound, novelty acts and for the very first time, film was available to view in public. The performances were soon attracting huge crowds and it was reported it attracted as many as 3000. It is believed that Jeffs and his show set up in a field near the top of modern day Regent Street. Many people were seeing motion picture for the very first time and Jeffs knew just how to attract the huge crowds.
As the Twentieth Century took off so did Cinema. After the success of Waller Jeffs show in the Town, local people started to cash in on the success. One such man was local Greengrocer, Henry Peberdy. From the back of his shop on 115 Queen’s Road, Peberdy started showing films for a few pence a time for those who were willing to pay. Willing they were and he soon set up in a much bigger way. In 1907 he set up the Cozydrome and later Kozy Kinema, it was accessed down the alleyway which still exists between Greggs and the card shop. Hallam (2012) explains “Patrons paid a few pennies and set on wooden benches to watch a programme of short films, lantern slides, interspersed with intervals when Peberdy, an accomplished violinist, filled in with pieces on various instruments. At first the projector was hand-cranked and oil lamps provided the lighting but, as the enterprise developed, the projector became motorised and gas lighting was introduced which helped maintain its popularity”.
Soon with the popularity of the Cinema, picture houses soon started spreading across Britain. Beeston soon had it’s fair share of cinemas for residents to choose from.
The Palace Cinema: Opened in 1913 on the High Road. Built as a replacement for the Beeston Electric Picture Pavilion. The Palace closed it’s doors on Saturday 20th February 1960.
The Palladium Cinema: First opened in 1914 on the High Road. D’ Auvergine in his book ‘Beeston Characters in the Twenties and Thirties’ (1996) explains a little about the Palladium experience “In the days of silent movies there were two performances nightly from Monday to Saturday, a children’s matinee on Saturday afternoon and a change of programme twice weekly. At the Saturday matinee the front seats were 2d and the rear stalls 3d, this included free sweets or chocolate distributed by the long suffering doorman. There were often cartoons, Felix usually, Westerns and serial thrillers which left one on the edge”. On 18 April 1959, the Palladium became the first of the real cinemas to close in Beeston. The Cinema building was demolished and now the Iceland Store stands where the Cinema once did.
The Astoria Cinema: The Astoria was opened in 1936. It was the first of a new generation of cinemas to be built in Beeston. It was located on the corner of Boundary Road, Beeston and Derby Road, against the City Boudary at the rear. It was well located to draw audiences from both the Beeston Fields and Lenton Abbey Estate. It showed its last film on the 11th October 1975.
The Majestic Cinema- Opened on the 1st of September 1938. It stood on the south-east corner of Station Road and Queens Road. In 1952, like the Astoria, it was taken over by the Essoldo Group. So for a short period there were two Cinemas in the Town with the same name. After the take over there was a decline in audience and the Cinema eventually closed. After the Majestic, the building was used as a Bingo Hall, until it was finally demolished in June 1988. The site is now occupied by Co-operative neighbourhood supermarket.
It has been many years since Beeston had a Cinema in the Town. Someone once said that “A visit to a cinema is a little outing in itself. It breaks the monotony of an afternoon or evening; it gives a change from the surroundings of home, however pleasant. When you go to the cinema you can leave behind your troubles or worries, and escape into another world. Cinema gives you this and always will”. This quote I am sure is still very true of today and if there was once again a cinema in Beeston, Beestonians could escape for those brief few hours into the world of Cinema.
D’ Auvergine, P., 1996. Beeston Characters in the Twenties and Thirties. Nottingham: Beeston and District Local History Society.
Hallam, D., 2004-2012. Cinemas in Beeston. [Online]. Nottingham: David Hallam. Available at http://www.beeston-notts.co.uk/landmark_cinemas.shtml [accessed 28 May 2013].