Tivoli Cinema

Copnor Road,
Portsmouth, PO3 5EE

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Essoldo Circuit (Contol) Ltd.

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Renaissance

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Located in the Copnor district of Portsmouth, to the east of Portsea Island, the Tivoli Cinema stood on the site of the earlier Copnor Electric Theatre (see separate Cinema Treasures entry).

The much smaller Electric Theatre building was used for the foyer for the Tivoli Cinema. The earlier cinema had closed by 26th November 1929; the Tivoli Cinema only opened a month later, on 26th December 1929, so building must have started while the Copnor Electric was still operating.

The new cinema was owned by Tivoli (Portsmouth) Ltd. Application had been made for a seating capacity of 1,515, but only 1,446 seats were authorised. It was equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system. The proscenium was 35ft wide and the stage 25ft deep. There were two dressing rooms.

The Tivoli Cinema was given what sounds like a very attractive Atmospheric style auditorium, intended to represent a Spanish courtyard. There was a clock tower to the left of the screen, which was set in an old archway. A villa adorned the rear of the auditorium, with the projector beams imaginatively shining through open shuttered windows. The ceiling was sky blue and, when the lights were dimmed, was covered with stars. The interior was designed by interior designer F.J. Spickernell. The exterior of the building also had some Spanish style features.

From 13th October 1930 an orchestra was engaged for musical interludes - apparently patrons were “fed up” with recorded music!

On 15th May 1933 the cinema closed for the construction of a modest balcony. On 26th June 1933 the enlarged Tivoli Cinema re-opened, now with 1,399 seats in the stalls and 353 in the new balcony; a total of 1,752.

During 1939 re-seating led to a revised capacity of 1,289 in the stalls, while the balcony remained at 353; a total of 1,642.

The Tivoli Cinema closed by 11th November 1941, and was requisitioned by the government to be used as a store during World War II.

It had re-opened by 10th April 1945. In November 1950 it was acquired by Essoldo (but not renamed).

The Tivoli Cinema closed on Saturday 14th March 1959 with the appropriately-titled “Sayonara”, starring Marlon Brando.

A garage and petrol station became its next use. The building was later demolished, with housing replacing the garage.

Contributed by David Simpson
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