Gem Cinema

Penryn Street,
Redruth, TR15 2SP

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Picturedrome

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Gem Cinema

In Redruth, Cornwall, is one of the most unusual cinema sites in the country.

The Druid’s Hall opened in 1859, and was home to a library, an assembly hall and a theatre.

It is thought that cinema operations, presumably in the theatre, may have started as early as 1908, run by Messrs. Cocks and Baker. By 1910 this was known as the Picturedrome, by then run by William Henry Jenkin. When he died in 1926 his wife Clara continued to operate the Picturedrome until 4th September 1935, when it was acquired by Gwyther Eastlake Prance.

He changed its name, to the Gem Cinema, from 15th February 1936. There were 450 seats: 331 in the stalls and 119 in the balcony. The proscenium was 23ft wide and a British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system was being used.

By 1949, according to the Kinematograph Year Book, the seating capacity had been increased to 484, with the Gem Cinema now under the control of Cornwall Circuit Ltd. By 1953, this had reduced slightly to 476.

The Gem Cinema was closed in the late-1950’s and had moved over to bingo by the early-1960’s, then burnt down in 1984.

The site was not redeveloped. In 2000, in a regeneration project, it opened as a community garden, built within the surviving walls. The Gem Cinema’s former stairs to the balcony and the projection room are still visible.

Contributed by David Simpson
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