Publix Cinema

5 Bowling Green,
Stevenage, SG1 3BH

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Additional Info

Styles: Tudor Revival

Previous Names: Cinema

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Publix Cinema

In Stevenage, Hertfordshire, the Cinema, the town’s first picture house, is thought to have opened around 1914. It was a conversion of a hall attached to a restaurant at the end of old Stevenage. It seated around 300 in stalls and a small balcony.

The Cinema closed late-1916/early-1917, apparently for lack of a projectionist. It re-opened on Monday 27th January 1919, after some alterations, and programmed films and variety. There were Saturday children’s matinees at 2pm.

The Cinema might have changed its name to the Tudor Cinema, though this has not been confirmed. It did change its name to Publix Cinema in April 1935. (An unusual name that might have derived from the American company Paramount Publix, which became Paramount Pictures.)

In 1943 a council inspection noted 218 stalls seats and 98 in the balcony. The following year the Publix Cinema became part of the small London and Provincial circuit.

But it was still a fairly basic operation: patrons recalled wooden benches at the front of the stalls even into the 1950’s - and the sound of rats scurrying about!

Towards the end, the Publix Cinema tried a ‘Continental’ style of adult programming, and some improvements were made, but the building was in dire need of structural repairs. (By this time, the seating capacity had reduced to 277.)

The Publix Cinema closed on 31st December 1960 with “The Last Meeting”, starring Alida Valli, and Ronald Howard and Patricia Roc in “The House in the Woods”.

Demolition took place in October 1965. Housing has been built on the site.

Contributed by David Simpson
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