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The East Park Picturedrome, 222 Kettering Road, Northampton

Northampton Theatre Index

The Northampton Picturedrome during the run of 'Can A Woman Love Twice?' with Ethel Clayton, which was released in 1923 - Courtesy Alan Ashton

Above - The Northampton Picturedrome during the run of 'Can A Woman Love Twice?' with Ethel Clayton, which was released in 1923 - Courtesy Alan Ashton, former projectionist at the Savoy Cinema, and whose late mother took the photograph with a Kodak 'bellows' camera.

 

An usher standing in front of the Northampton Picturedrome during the run of 'Making A Man' with Jack Holt, which was released in 1922 - Courtesy Alan AshtonThe Northampton East Park Picturedrome was built by Mr. Robinson, a local Stone Mason, on the corner of Kettering Road and Abington Avenue. It took a year to build and was something of a surprise to his friends when he announced that he was going to build a Cinema in his back yard.

The Picturedrome seated 500 people, and, when it opened on November the 12th 1912, it was attended by 400 guests who were ushered into the new Cinema by attendants in gold braided uniforms to watch a single reel silent movie which was accompanied by an orchestra, conducted by the violin playing musical director, Charles Tysoe, who was renowned for his musical skills with silent movies, and who also provided sound effects such as horses hooves and rain by using coconuts and a barrel of peas. Charles Tysoe stayed at the Picturedrome until the Talkies became prominent, after which he became a music teacher.

Right - An usher standing in front of the Northampton Picturedrome during the run of 'Making A Man' with Jack Holt, which was released in 1922 - Courtesy Alan Ashton, former projectionist at the Savoy Cinema, and whose late mother took the photograph with a Kodak 'bellows' camera.

The Picturedrome was quite a success and when Mr. Robinson died his son Edgar took over the running of the Cinema until it was sold in 1935 to Mr. H. D. Pascoe. In 1953 it is said that the Picturedrome was the first Cinema in the Country to install a panoramic wide screen and to feature the then experimental Metroscopix film system.

The Picturedrome closed in 1958 and was sold off but was to reopen as a Cinema 40 years later in 1998, and although it is now no longer in use as a Cinema the building still exists and in 2009 is in use as a restaurant.

I am very grateful to Alan Ashton, projectionist at the Savoy Cinema in the 1950s, for kindly sending in the above information and images for the Picturedrome and New Theatre.

Bernie Burgess, The Picturedrome, and Ruby Murray

The Northampton Picturedrome in February 2012 - Courtesy Eve Livesley

Above - The Northampton Picturedrome in February 2012 - Courtesy Eve Livesley

During the mid 1940s the Chief Projectionist at The Picturedrome was Len Burgess who had previously worked at The Savoy Cinema and The New Theatre in Abington Street. Len was given a difficult task of being Chief Projectionist at two cinemas at the same time, both of which were owned by the same man. The second cinema was The Cinema de Luxe in Lower Mounts Northampton. Len's son Bernie Burgess, who also had worked at The New Theatre, was in between touring shows for Sam Newsome, the lease holder at the 'New', as Assistant Stage Manager. To assist his Father Bernie took on relief work covering for him as projectionist.

Later Bernie returned to The New Theatre as Assistant Stage Manager and in 1953 a group appeared in a show at the 'New' and one of their members had to leave the act for personal reasons which left the act in difficulties. During his working time at the theatre he, along with a couple of other young lads, they indulged in harmony singing. They discovered that there was an echo in the men's staff toilet at the rear of the theatre which enhanced their harmony wonderfully. The visiting group were informed of these local 'harmonisers' and asked to see and hear them. One lad was asked to audition but was too hesitant about joining the act. Eventually Bernie was asked to audition and as a result he joined the act 'The Mel-O-Macs' the following Monday morning.

'Ruby My Precious Gem The Ruby Murray Story' by Bernie Burgess - Click the cover to buy the book at Amazon.co.uk.18 months later the act changed their name, and one member of the group, and became 'The 4 Jones Boys'. The act enjoyed great success via television and recording and were chosen by Bernard Delfont to appear in his first spectacular summer season show at Blackpool's North Pier in 1957.

There were 3 star names in the show and the Top of the Bill was Ruby Murray. Ruby and Bernie fell in love and became engaged to be married. The engagement was very brief and they were married in the August of that season. Ruby enjoyed tremendous success as a result of having no less than 5 'hit' records in the 'Top Twenty' all at the same time, a world record which has never been broken by any other recording star, she still holds the world record.

Right - 'Ruby My Precious Gem The Ruby Murray Story' by Bernie Burgess - Click the cover to buy the book at Amazon.co.uk.

You may also like to visit the the Official Ruby Murray Website here.

The above information was kindly written and sent in for inclusion on this site by Bernie Burgess in 2011.