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The Royal Variety Theatre
Talkies for Rushden - To Open Shortly at The Royal Theatre
The Royal Variety Theatre
In the 1930s when cinema was at its peak.

The Rushden Echo & Argus, 7th March 1930, transcribed by Gill Hollis.

“Talkies” are to make their debut at Rushden within the next few weeks.

They will be seen and heard at the Royal Theatre, where preparations for installing the electrical sound apparatus began yesterday. Some structural alterations are necessary, but no time will be lost, and the new line of entertainment may be launched in six or seven weeks’ time

“Our directors,” said Mrs. G. E. Catling, the manageress, in an interview, “have held back the installation of talkies because they were desirous of putting in an all-British set, made in England by English workpeople.

“The contract now entered into is with the British Thomson-Houston Co. who will install their very latest apparatus.”

In anticipation of this development some of the best talking pictures have been booked well in advance.

Right: Poster for Christmas week - probably 1938

Below: Headed notepaper

Poster for Christmas week - probably 1938
Headed notepaper
From the headed notepaper (undated)

Directors of Rushden Cinema Ltd: Messrs C F Ball, H Warren, W T Simmons, E J Simmons, W H Watts & J W F Powell. Manageress Miss G Clayton.

From the poster above – Seats cost 1/6d, 1/- or 9d (on the balcony), 9d in the “stalls”, or 6d in the “pits”. Children half price. Booked seats at 1/6d, 1/4d, or 1/-. The lowest priced seats were not bookable in advance.

The heyday for cinema was in the 1940s when up to 1400 people would fill the cinema. The decline had set in in the 1950s when pop music was taking teenagers to dance halls rather than picture houses. The Royal Theatre tried to combat this when it opened a Saturday afternoon "Teenbeat" in the late 1950s, when local bands would perform on stage with 600 teenagers filling the downstairs area. The final films were shown on 13th May 1961.
Floodlit in 1950s Boarded up
Above, when the Theatre was boarded up in the 1990s. It had been used by a variety of businessess after it closed, but was finally demolished for Asda in 2005.

Left, floodlit on a wet night in the 1950s.
After the cinema closed, the cinema became a car showroom and garage for Croyland Motors, but following a fire this also closed. Later it was used as an indoor market, and then a carpet showroom. Much of it was then left empty and the front of the building turned into two small units. It became derelict and was demolished in 2005.

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