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Shefford Cinema

site of Shefford Cinema 1927
Site of Shefford Cinema - the building marked 23 - 1927

Shefford's cinema is practically undocumented but from what there is seems to have run for a few years after the First World War. Even the name is uncertain - it may have been the Empire of the New Hall Cinema. G.C.Peck in his Bedfordshire Cinemas published in 1981 by Bedfordshire County Council notes that G.H.Borwell was refused a licence to open on Christmas Day 1920 as was Captain W.Grieve in 1923.

 view towards the site of Shefford Cinema February 2008
View towards the site of Shefford Cinema February 2008

It was, basically, a barn attached to King's the butchers off Southbridge Street and adjacent to the River Hit [the site annotated 23 on the map above] and served as a home to a travelling cinema once a week.  In 1927 the town of Shefford was valued under the terms of the Rating valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer noted [DV1/C289/23] that the owner and occupier was S.B.King and that the building was constructed of wood and slate; it was a "large building" seating 150. The valuer also noted: "old high wood & slate barn" and "A cinema was run here till recently but now given up & occasionally hired for dances at £1 per night". The building survived, unused, until the autumn of 1939 when children from the newly evacuated Jewish Secondary School in Amherst Park, London were billeted there until a fire burned the place down.