Continental Style

I was recently pleased to be able to purchase  an old Nottingham cinema programme from December 1956. The cinema’s name at the time was the New Victoria. It appears to have been known as the Victoria Electric Picture Palace prior to that (it was Nottingham’s first purpose-built cinema when it opened in 1910) and the Moulin Rouge when it closed in 1970. Improbably, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor made an appearance there in 1968 to promote a film.

The cinema’s entrance was on Milton Street, near to the junction with Shakespeare Street and opposite Victoria railway station. The building was later demolished, and in 1996 a plaque was erected to mark the site. Unfortunately, the plaque itself has now vanished, following further redevelopment in recent years. It was one of four allocated to Nottingham by the British Film Institute to celebrate the ‘Centenary of Cinema’, the other three commemorating the Grand Theatre in Hyson Green (‘Site of Nottingham’s first public screening of films’), Graham Greene (who worked for a Nottingham newspaper for a short time) and Alma Lucy Reville (screenwriter and editor, wife of Alfred Hitchcock and born in Nottingham).

It’s great to be able to hold in my hands tangible evidence of one of the many cinemas that existed in Nottingham at the time that the programme was issued, of which the Savoy in Lenton is now the only one still in operation. I wonder who the original owner of the programme was.

The New Victoria seems to have been one of Nottingham’s more upmarket cinemas, and the front cover of the programme that I have features an image highlighting its ‘Continental Premieres’ – the phrase being used in the ‘foreign films’ sense, rather than as a reference to the adult movies that were later to become a feature of many cinemas during their ‘last legs’ phase.

Inside, we are informed that the New Victoria offers ‘CinemaScope as it should be with Four Track Magnetic Stereophonic Sound – Still the Only System of its kind in Nottingham.’ Equally impressively (to my mind, anyway), the programme states that ‘Suggestions which will improve the standard of your comfort or entertainment will be welcomed by the Manager, or direct to the Managing Director, A. R. Wood, Burton Leonard, Nr. Harrogate’. There are certainly a few suggestions that I could make to the modern multiplex chains in this regard.

Another wonderful feature (for the modern day reader, at least) is the local advertising that the programme contains. ‘Male Wardrobe’ is offered by Michael Laurence (‘Your American Fashion Centre’) of 9-13 Goosegate – occupied these days by Ice Nine – and the advert features a photo of the storefront. Much-loved Nottingham institution (sadly no longer with us) Sisson & Parker of Wheeler Gate, resists hyperbole and is content to describe its store simply as ‘large and really well-stocked’. Briddocks (‘The City’s Newspaper Shop’) is another store that is greatly missed by many Nottinghamians, while the mention of Drury Hill in one advert will be guaranteed to raise a reaction from anyone who cares about Nottingham’s history.

How strange to think that items such as this programme, that were so innocuous and disposable at the time, hold such fascination all these years later – as may their contemporary equivalents to future generations.

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for other similar mementoes.

2 thoughts on “Continental Style

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