Home City Centre Bridge Street Inside the City Cinema

Inside the City Cinema

The interior of the City Cinema on Bridge Street, pictured in the late 1950s.

The City Cinema was opened on 27th March 1927. Seating was provided in stalls and circle levels with boxes along the side-walls. The stage was 40 feet deep, behind a 26 feet wide proscenium. There were four dressing rooms. It was equipped with a Conacher 4 Manual organ that had 30 speaking stops, which was opened by organists Cooper Francis and G. Rhodes. The cinema also boasted a café and a ballroom.

The City Cinema was the first cinema in the town to screen ‘talkies’ when Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool” was shown in 1929. In 1930 it was fitted with an RCA sound system. By 1937 it was operated by Peterborough Amusements, owned by the Bancroft family. In 1942, a German incendiary bomb fell on the stage, and it destroyed the Conacher organ. The City Cinema was closed for six weeks while repairs were carried out. Alterations were made in August 1956, when it was equipped with CinemaScope. The proscenium was now 30 feet wide, the side-wall boxes having been removed. The first CinemaScope film to be shown was Jack Hawkins in “Land of the Pharaohs”.

The City Cinema played its last regular programme on 20th March 1960 “Rita Hayworth in “The Story on Page One” and “Assignment New Zealand” which had played for 7-days. The following day (a Sunday) “The Lone Ranger” and The Bowery Boys in “Crashing Las Vegas” closed the cinema for good. It was demolished in the summer of 1961 and an extension to the adjacent Woolworth’s store was built on the site. It later became a branch of Marks & Spencer, which closed earlier this year.

[thanks to Ken Roe for the detail]