Cinemas - Theatres

Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea

History in Pictures
ODEON Southend-on-Sea
Astoria Cinema High Street Southend-on-Sea. Opened 15th July 1935. Seating capacity 3,000. Renamed June 1940. ODEON Cinema High Street Southend-on-Sea. From June 1940. Seating capacity 3,000. Closed 1970 refurbished and a new twin ODEON emerged with a seating capacity screen 1, 455 and screen 2, 1235. Closed 5th April 1997. Demolished December 2004 and is now partly the site of the University of Essex.
The Kingsway London Road Hadleigh Essex. Opened 27th April 1936. Leased by ABC for many years. Closed for short while in 1959 reopening as an independent cinema in December 1959. Closed as a cinema February 1965. Demolished 1970.
& Places of Entertainment
Assembly Hall Westcliff-on-Sea opened January 1907. 1909 Renamed Kings Hall Cinema. Reconstructed in 1923 and named ‘Kings’. Seating capacity doubled. Closed January 1940. Demolished c1947.
Arcadia Theatre Tylers Avenue Southend-on-Sea. Opened 16th August 1920. Seating capacity 800. Closed October 1921. Reopened as the Ambassador’s Theatre. Closed as a theatre 18th April 1931. Reopened as Regal Cinema 1st November 1931. Seating increased to around 1,000. Closed 16th November 1935. Reopened as the Regal Theatre 26th December 1935. Closed 23rd October 1954.
Public Hall Alexandra Street Southend-on-Sea was built in 1872. Renamed Alexandra Theatre by 1886 destroyed by fire January 1895. Empire Theatre opened 25th May 1896 rebuilt on the site of the Alexandra Theatre with a seating capacity of 2,230 and closed in August 1919. In 1920 the theatre was converted into a cinema. Rivoli Cinema Alexandra Street Southend-on-Sea. Opened May 1920 with the first sound film shown in Southend 7th October 1929. In November 1961 it closed for modernisation and opened as the ABC in 7th June 1962. The cinema was twinned in March 1980 and closed January 1998. Opening for the last time was the New Empire Theatre in October 1998. Closed 7th November 2008. The building was demolished between December 2016—May 2017.
Gem Electric Victoria Circus Southend-on-Sea. Opened May 1911. Closed 1922 and became the Gem Bazaar. Demolished mid 1920’s for the Victoria Arcade complex later redeveloped into the Hammerson Shopping Centre, Victoria Shopping Centre now the Plaza.
Kinemacolor Theatre Warrior Square Southend-on-Sea. This theatre started out as skating rink called ‘The Rinkeries’ which opened in October 1909, in 1911 the building was converted and opened as a theatre on 14th October 1911. Renamed Warrior Square Picture Theatre in May 1912. 1919 under new ownership and renamed the Strand. Destroyed by fire in 1926. Rebuilt and opened January 1928. Renamed the Essoldo in 1955. Seating capacity1550. Closed May 1960. Became Supa Save Supermarket owned by Keddies. Demolished c1970.
Ritz Cinema Church Road Southend-on-Sea. Opened February 1935. Seating capacity 2,250. Closed as a cinema March 1972. Reopened as a Bingo Hall. Closed 1978. Demolished 1981. Site now the Royals car park.
ODEON The Broadway London Road Southend-on-Sea. Opened 22nd November 1996. 8 Screen Multi-Plex. Total seating capacity all auditoriums 1,850.
The Bandstand The Cliffs Southend-on-sea. First erected in 1902 and over the years has been rebuilt and replaced. In 2002 the bandstand was removed from the cliffs as the site became unstable it went into storage and received a face lift. In 2008 it was moved to Priory Park.
Ruffels Imperial Bioscope, Kursaal Cinema Southend-on-Sea. Opened 1904 in the Ballroom. 1913 moved to a new auditorium and named the Kursaal Kinema. Seating capacity 646. By 1920 seating increased to 1,000. Cinema closed July 1940. Apart from it’s cinema the Kursaal with its amusement park was a venue for entertainment, with a programme of variety, dancing, live bands etc. The site sadly closed in the 1970s, the park was redeveloped into a housing estate. Later the main building was renovated and opened with a bowling alley but closed again.
Hippodrome Cinema Southchurch Road Southend-on-Sea. Opened November 1909. Seating capacity 1,750. Open until name change in January 1934.
Garons Imperial Bioscope Broadway/High Street Southend-on-Sea. Opened 27th May 1911. Seating capacity 600. 1920 renamed Garon’s Cinema. 1929 auditorium extended. Seating capacity 916. Closed May 1963. Demolished and replaced with shops.
Plaza Repertory Theatre Southchurch Southend-on-Sea. Opened as cinema 6th March 1929. Seating capacity 1,250. Became the State Cinema August 1959. Closed as a cinema November 1959.
Talza Hall Theatre Southchurch Road Southend-on- Sea. Started out as a function hall in the mid 1920s and was converted into a theatre in 1932. Renamed New Repertory in 1933 then known as the Talza Theatre from 1934—1937. Converted to a cinema 1st March 1938 as the Civic News Theatre. Seating capacity 300. After short closure in 1950 reopened as the New Vic Cinema which closed September 1959.
Metropole Cinema London Road Westcliff-on-Sea. Opened April 1939. Seating capacity 1,189. Essoldo London Road Westcliff-on-Sea. Opened 2nd January 1954. Classic Cinema London Road Westcliff-on-Sea. Opened 2nd April 1972. Dual screened 20th December 1973. Seating capacity screen 1, 423 screen 2, 300. Cannon Cinema London Road Westcliff-on-Sea. Opened 29th November 1985. Closed 21st February 1991. Building demolished September 1994.
Mascot Cinema London Road Westcliff-on-Sea. Opened 1914. Seating Capacity 750. Rebuilt in 1932 building raised 65 feet and extended. Seating capacity 1,233. Closed October 1964 due to fire & demolished.
Star Cinema West Street Prittlewell. Opened Dec 1919. Renamed ‘Priory’ Cinema 1920. 1923 renamed the Gaiety Cinema. 1925 named the Ideal Cinema. 1926 renamed Gibbs and finally in 1928 named the Picture House. Seating capacity was 430. Closed as a cinema March 1931. In 1935 the building was transformed into a church. In 1949 leased to R.A.F.A. and later used for amature boxing. The building was demolished May 1996.
Corona Cinema Leigh Road Leigh-on-Sea. Opened October 1929. Seating capacity 1530. Closed as a cinema 4th April 1959. Became a snooker Hall (Edwardian Snooker Hall, Radion Snooker Centre and Riley’s Snooker Club) later a false floor was added for a Superbowl Centre. Demolished 2018. Apartment complex now sits on the old site.
Empire Palace Theatre The Broadway Leigh-on-Sea. Opened December 1910. Seating 400 enlarged 1912 to seat 650. Closed December 1937. Demolished 2009.
Coliseum Cinema Elm Road Leigh-on-Sea. Opened April 1914, seating capacity 600. Rebuilt January 1930 roof raised balcony added seating capacity increased to 1,100. New interior in 1936 increased seating capacity to 1,500. Closed as a cinema May 1965. Reopened as a Bingo Hall which closed 1997. 2001 partly demolished and made into apartments and shops.
Palace Cinema Ness Road Shoeburyness. Opened May 1913. Seating capacity 500. Closed as a cinema March 1955. Reopened as a camping shop. Building demolished March 2012 then rebuilt as apartments.
The Rayleigh Regal was built on the site of the Cosy Talkie Theatre and opened 29th April 1937 there was 696 seats, the cinema closed 29th September 1973 and was demolished shortly afterwards. Offices and apartments are built on the former cinema site.

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HISTORY
GALLERIES 1
GALLERIES 2
AUTHORS/PHOTOGRAPHY
WEBSITE INFO
SOUTHEND WATER CO
MISCELLANEOUS
Sea of Change Southend-on-Sea History in Pictures www.southend-on-sea.me.uk
Happy Valley Seafront Westcliff-on-Sea. The Happy Valley was up and running before 1909 providing ‘Alfresco’ entertainment. The seated rows were chargeable but other areas were free.
Floral Hall Seafront Wescliff-on-Sea. Opened in 1920 replacing the Happy Valley it was a new construction which could be opened up in warm sunny weather and closed on wintry cold days. On the 14th August 1937 the Floral Hall came to an abrupt end and closed due to a fire, the area was cleared, landscaped with a small fish pond and became a part of the Cliff Gardens.
Gaumont Cinema Southchurch Road Southend-on-Sea. 15th January 1934. Seating capacity 1,588. Closed 12th October 1956. Demolished 1958.
Cliffs Pavilion Westcliff-on-Sea. Built on the site of Shorefields House/Pavilion, work started in 1939 but halted due to WWII, after the war the site fell victim to the governments building restrictions, then the town council rejected a scheme to complete. It would be 25 years before the opening on 4th July 1964. Seating capacity 1,080. Closed August 1991 for expansion of building. Seating capacity increased to 1,630 by addition of a balcony. Reopened 14th December 1992 and still open to date.
Pier Pavilion Southend-on-Sea. Opened 1909 for variety including films from 1910. Closed in 1959 after a fire destroyed the Pavilion. In 1962 the Pavilion was replaced with a bowling alley which also was destroyed by fire in 1995. The site is now laid to decking.
Henry’s Hall The Broadway Leigh-on-Sea. Owner Mr Henry Bridge a well known local carpenter and builder converted his shop into a concert hall on the first floor and a furniture auction room on the ground floor. The concert hall opened 8th June1912 with Bioscope presentations and variety programmes, seating capacity was 600. Henry’s Hall closed as a cinema in 1915, by 1923 premises used by Dossett’s Bakery. In the 1980s Midel Cleaning supplies took over and in 2014 the building was demolished.
Southend Picture Palace Grove Terrace Pier Hill Southend-on-Sea. Opened 1909. Name changed to Grove Picture Theatre by 1913 name change again to Pier Hill Cinema 1914. Closed 1919 and became part of a coach station used by Westcliff Motor Services. 1981 the site of the former cinema and surrounding area were gradually cleared to make way for the Royals Shopping Centre.
Princes Hall Tylers Avenue Southend-on-Sea. Opened 1896 for variety. Seated 400. By 1908 a mixture of variety and Bioscope. After a short closure reopened as Princes Picturedome in 1910. Renamed Avenue Cinema 1920. Renamed Lyric Cinema in 1925. Closed January 1929 and demolished, site became a car park for the ‘London’ Public House.
Theatre De Luxe London Road Victoria Circus Southend-on-Sea. Opened October 1909. Closed August 1923 after fire in roof. After premises had various uses. Demolished May 1936 Dixon’s Department Store extended over the site.
Criterion Palace of Varieties 16 Marine Parade Southend-on-Sea. Opened c1886 offering ales, stout and fine wines with variety entertainment every evening. Southend’s motion picture history started here in 1898 when the first moving pictures in the town were projected, newsreels of the Boer War.
The Bandstand Pier Hill Southend-on- Sea. Just prior to WW1 the Bandstand was moved to Chalkwell Park.
Uncle Frank’s Popular Seaside Minstrels. Established in 1876 and performed on the sands West of the pier.
The ‘Jolly Boys’ Bandstand Marine Parade Southend-on-Sea. The troupe began performing at Southend in 1896, initially holding concerts on the beach, later moving to the Jolly Boys bandstand Marine Parade. Their shows were first class and in 1917 won second prize in the United Kingdom’s most popular entertainment competition. The area became known as the ‘Jolly Spot’.
Southend Theatre One of the objects of the promoters of New South End was to provide theatrical performances for the entertainment of it’s visitors. In the summer of 1797 permission was granted to Ralph Wewitzer a comedian from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London to take a company of comedians to South End for for a season of 60 days. In the next few years touring companies, organised and controlled by Thomas Trotter, from Worthing, provided entertainment during the season, performing at the Grand Hotel, Trotter later utilised as a theatre the outbuildings or stables of Lawn House, which stood near the Hope Hotel. In 1804 Trotter built a theatre on a site nearly opposite the old Castle Inn east of the Minerva Hotel, it was a very small house, but neatly divided into into boxes, with a pit and gallery. Trotter had secured from Mr. Scratton, Lord of the Manor of Prittlewell, a lease of a piece of ground on Southend Common, for the erection of a bricked building for the performance of theatricals. Trotter managed the theatre directly until 1812 when he leased it to Samuel Jerrold, father of Douglas Jerrold the famous writer and dramatist, who spent some of his early years in Southend. In 1826 Trotter’s theatres were offered for sale. The Southend theatre was bought for £720 and had a varied history afterwards. Thomas Trotter died at the age of 72 in 1851, he was a proprietor and actor manager of prominence in the theatrical world. His theatre circuit included Worthing where he had his headquarters, Southend and many other places. During the prosperous days Trotter’s company had included many of the leading actors and actresses in England, some of whom played in his Southend theatre.
Talk of the South 16-20 Marine Parade Southend-on-Sea. Opened in 1972 by Lou Manzi, son of businessman Frank Manzi. Became popular for cabaret with live acts as well as dancing. Later became a discotheque/night club. Other names TOTS, TOTS 2000, Talk. Closed 31st December 2019.
Sun Deck Theatre Pier Head Southend-on-Sea. Built in the 1950s on the pier head above the main deck. Home to Jerry Jerome’s Zip-A-Hoy variety show which ran for many seasons. In the 1970s the theatre was converted and renamed the Diamond Horseshoe Showbar. The theatre was destroyed in the 1976 pier head fire.
The Royal Pavilion Cultural Centre Pier Head Southend-on-Sea. This new pavilion was built at Tilbury and on 17th May 2012 lowered onto the pier head by crane, opening to the public on 19th July 2012. The pavilion is used for theatrical productions, concerts and exhibitions with a capacity for 185 people.
Palace of Varieties London Road Westcliff- on-Sea. Opened 21st October 1912. In December 1912 the theatre was renamed the New Palace, from 1919 after new ownership, construction of a small annexe at the rear of the stage was completed to rear project films. Seating capacity 1,500 and reduced to 603. The Palace Theatre as it is known today, has suffered financial troubles on and off over the years and has had periods of closure. In 1980 the addition of the adjacent building to the theatre as the Dixon Studio opened offering a smaller venue for a wide range of performances. On 21st April 2003, 9 months later after another closure the theatre reopened again with some refurbishment, this time under a newly formed Southend Theatres, a merger of the Palace Theatre and the Cliffs Pavilion. The Palace Theatre and the Dixon Studio remain open to date.
The Rayleigh Cinema started from the closure of an old school, the hall was converted into a cinema c1924. In 1930 sound equipment was installed and in 1931 the cinema was renamed the Cosy Talkie Theatre. In the autumn of 1936 the ‘Cosy’ was closed and demolished.