Love of cinema captured on film
Image: Picture palace - The Astoria in Purley in 1934
A new book examines the history of Croydon's cinemas through a collection of old photographs, programmes and advertisements. The book titled "Croydon Cinemas" charts almost 100 years of film going by looking at establishments operating in the borough from 1908 to the present day.
More than 40 cinemas are featured in the book, including the short-lived ones from the pre-First World War period, the larger buildings of the 1920s and 1930s and the two recently-built multiplexes. Among the many cinemas mentioned is the Davis Theatre, which was the fourth largest in the country and the venue for many other events, including concerts, plays and boxing matches.
One of the Davis Theatre's proudest moments was when it played host to a rare performance by the Russian Bolshoi Ballet, prompting hopeful theatregoers to queue for days to get a ticket.
The lines snaked from the theatre in High Street all the way to East Croydon station. On 2nd June 1953, a 24 foot wide television screen was installed for a full house to watch the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II live.
Declining cinema audiences and a reduction in film production forced the venue to close in May 1959. A few weeks later it was demolished.
The book's author is Alien Millions attended cinema at its peak Eyles, a professional film historian who has visited Croydon's cinemas since the 1950s and has written a five volume history of the major cinema circuits. "Croydon Cinemas", which is part of the Images of England series is available from bookshops, ISBN number: 07524 3816 6.