Wantage Cinema

18 Wallingford Street,
Wantage, OX12 8AX

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Picture Palace

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Wantage Cinema

In Wantage, Oxfordshire, Captain J. C. Oakes opened the Picture Palace on 12th November 1914. The hall had cost £400. During the war it was managed by D. S. Holderness. Happily, Captain Oakes survived the war.

In 1922 a young man, Aubrey G. “Jock” Beardsley, was employed by Mr Kirk, by then the manager. Mr Beardsley looked after the generating engine, projected the films and swept the hall - all for 15s a week. But by 1924 he was running the business, and later he purchased the building with the help of another local man, Arthur Colbert.

By the late-1920’s the Picture Palace had been renamed the Wantage Cinema. It is assumed that a sound system was installed; however, in the early-1930’s Mr Beardsley heard that a cinema promoter, Mr Fort, was negotiating with Arthur Gibbs for the purchase of his music business in Newbury Street. Realising the threat to his own cinema, Mr Beardsley, with support from Arthur Colbert, leased the premises from Mr Gibbs and set about creating his own ‘super’ cinema, the Regent Cinema (see separate Cinema Treasures entry).

When that was ready, the Wantage Cinema closed down, on Saturday 10th October 1935. The fittings and projection equipment, etc., were moved across to the new cinema, which opened just two days later, on 12th October.

The old cinema building became a greengrocers, a tractor depot, a laboratory for paint ingredients and, finally, from 1955, a cycle shop called Wheelers.

It was demolished in August 1991. More recently a Costcutter store has been built on the site.

Contributed by David Simpson
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