The Picturedrome and High Town Electric Theatre 24 High Town Road Luton
The site of High Town Road Electric Theatre August 2011
Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records has no record of this cinema other than directory entries and a piece on it in a publication by George C. Peck, published by Bedfordshire County Council in 1981, Bedfordshire Cinemas. The entry reads as follows.
The Picturedrome [also, confusingly, the name of a cinema in Park Street opened in 1911] and High Town Electric Theatre, 24 High Town Road, opened on 24th August 1912 to show English, American and continental films. the proprietors said that the cinema would be "No flash in the pan, but a high quality of programme will be maintained at all times. The cinema will be the only hall in Luton always showing the world famed Pathe Animated Gazette: an up-to-date topical budget, showing the world's events day by day. It is issued and received twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturday. Don't delay your visit". special attention had been given to the arrangement of seating which was upholstered in plush covering throughout.
The programme changed on Mondays and Thursdays, with continuous performances between 6 and 11 pm, Saturdays between 5 and 11, at a charge of 3d. and 6d. on the ground floor and 9d. and 1s. in the Grand Circle, which could be reserved. There was a children's matinee every Saturday at 2 pm, with prices of 1d., 2d. and 3d. "Picture play chocolates" were sold in the hall at reasonable prices, as were packets containing the photograph of a popular picture artist.
The first programme was a series of eight short films with only two of them being British - The Chauffeur's Dream, in which he dreamt of driving under the sea and down a volcano (made in 1908 and lasted 7 minutes) and Amorous Arthur, where a girl's sister replied to a suitor's love letter (this lasted 10 minutes).
The Picturedrome made a point of including serials from the start because Our Navy began the second week of opening and continued for the next 8 weeks. The cinema had the sole rights for Luton on this film. the main feature shown in conjunction with part 4 was A Prisoner of War, which was produced by Edison and depicted the last days of Napoleon on Saint Helena.
The cinema closed in October 1937, after showing Pick a Star, a Hal Roach production featuring Laurel and Hardy. It was reopened for a while and renamed the Plaza before finally closing. It became a warehouse, demolished in 1979.
Successive owners were General Theatre Corporation, Southan Morris Circuit by 1929, leased to Union Cinema Company by 1936. It seated 550.