Going to the pictures: a short history of cinema in Nottingham by Michael Payne (Nottingham Civic Society, £4.99)

GoingtothePicturesJust round the corner from the Bookshop on Long Row was once the Long Row Picture House, opened in 1912. That particular cinema was one of the big two in Nottingham, with 600 seats, some of whose patrons paid a bit more to sit in the balcony. There was a cafe and a continuous programme from 1.00pm-10.30pm. Sadly the cinema did not make it into the era of the “talkies” and closed in 1930. The once beautiful building is now marred by a cheap and nasty sign saying Ladbrokes, but look up, the rest of the frontage is still beautiful.  The other of the big two was the Elite on Parliament Street, which could hold 1,500. This cinema had a special floor in the foyer to minimise noise, an enormous electric organ, a full-scale restaurant, a gentlemen’s smoking room and a ladies room.

But you could start this review with many “just round the corner” lines as Nottingham – like other big towns – was packed with cinemas in the city centre and in the suburbs. Packed, I tell you.  And they are all here in this book. With lovely photos, the stories of the cinemas, memorabilia. And on the cover is a lovely photograph of Broadway – an interesting choice given the range of historic cinemas inside. Broadway itself has some history too. I can remember its predecessor, the  old Coop Cinema, a part-time enterprise where they did not so much advertise changes in the programme as changes in the audience as everyone there seemed to be regulars who all knew each other.  Cinemas are not just buildings. This short, very attractive book will be a local  best-seller. Well done, Michael.

Ross Bradshaw

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