The Playhouse Cinema

A 1949 programme

By Harry Atkins

Originally a chapel

In 1949, The Playhouse boasted that you could ‘See the best films in comfort at the cheapest prices’. The building was originally a Congregational Chapel which was converted by local architects Denman & Matthew; it opened as the King’s Cliff Cinema in 1920. Locally it was also known as the Sudeley Place Picture House. The cinema closed in 1950 and re-opened in 1951 as The Continentale.

Photo:Former Playhouse cinema

Former Playhouse cinema

Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Converted into dwellings

Eventually the cinema was closed in 1986 following the sudden death of Miles Byrne its owner. Sadly this was only a few months after a complete refurbishment had been completed. The building lay empty for a long time but eventually was sold to developers. The exterior walls and roof were retained, and the auditorium was converted into three town houses. A fourth was built on the site of the former stage and dressing room block, which were completely demolished.

Did you go to The Playhouse?

Here  is  a  part  of  a  brochure,  advertising  forthcoming  films, in the  Playhouse  Theatre in 1949. Note  the  names of  the  little shops. Does anyone remember going to The Playhouse, or of using any of the shops advertised? If you do, please leave a comment below.

Photo:Playhouse programme

Playhouse programme

From the private collection of Harry Atkins

Photo:Playhouse programme

Playhouse programme

From the private collection of Harry Atkins

This page was added on 22/07/2011.
Comments about this page

I remember standing around the back of the cinema and listening to the films (mostly in French) and on occasion if the door was open, my sisters and I would sneek inside and find seats in the dark to watch the films. Some were "quite rude"  and we would giggle and couldn't wait to tell our friends about the nude scenes. I remember Wadmans which I would pass daily on my way to Queen's Park school. I think they had an electric train running in the shop window. I also remember going to Bert's cafe next to Bottings Bakery at the end of St. George's Road near the adjunct of Eaton Place I think. I also went to the Odean cinema at Paston Place, every Saturday morning for the kids' shows. The manager would get up on stage and we would all sing a song called "We come along on Saturday morning, greeting everybody with a smile". Great memories.

By Gwennie (27/07/2011)

I was a regular at the cinema during the 40's when it was known simply as the KingsCliff or the Sudeley. Accompanied by my older brother, we would walk from Rugby Place along Eastern Road and invariably had to queue up the pavement. It was rather a "fleapit", but never failed to excite me! There was always a scallywag or two being turfed out for "bunking in", found by the usherette who continually swept up and down the aisles with her torch!

By Brian Hatley (24/12/2012)

My first cinematic experience was in 1945 at this cinema.  My father took me to see Henry V. Scary stuff, all those arrows!  After that, I went to see Flash Gordon, so exciting!  Later I remember going to see films and the usherette would serve tea. Very nice.  Fast forward to 1975 and it was an adult cinema. I saw this amazing French movie. I cannot remember the name of the film.  Then later I saw it had become a block of flats.

By Derek Hawkes (30/01/2015)

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