Central Picture Theatre

Garfield Street, Smithfield,
Belfast, BT1

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Central Picture Theatre

The Central Picture Theatre (affectionately known as the ‘Smithfield Ritz’!) opened on 22 December 1913 with “By the Cross” starring Maria Jacobini and Mario Mariani. It was a rather rudimentary conversion of a jeweller’s shop, and is recalled as being cold, dark and uncomfortable! Nevertheless, it achieved a coup when it presented “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi in 1932. None of the larger cinemas would touch the film, which became a huge hit for this very modest cinema!

Despite its drawbacks, the Central Picture Theatre continued until 1958, when the inevitable happened. The building was acquired by the Post Office, which cleared the site for car parking, leaving only the front wall. More recently, the site has been lost to the huge Castle Court shopping complex.

Contributed by David Simpson
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