Theatres & Cinemas

An alphabetical list

ABC chain (c1950)
New Theatre, Regal, Victoria, Central, Tivoli and Playhouse.
Union chain (c1931)
Central, Tivoli, Victoria, Playhouse, Theatre Cinema

C.U. Amateur Dramatic Club, Park Street
Opened in 1855
Arts Cinema, Market Passage
Originally the Cosmopolitan Cinema.
Purchased and refurbished in 1947 by the Arts Theatre Trust.
Closed on 20 June 1999 to be sold off for a pub.
Opened in November 2002 as McMullen's "B" bar.
Arts Theatre, Peas Hill
Opened in 1936 by the Arts Theatre Trust
Central Cinema, Hobson St.
Cambridge Motor Service Co. became the Central Cinema in 1921
The present building dates from 1930 (and it triggered the redevelopment of the Sussex St. junction).
It became the Odeon and has been a bingo hall since 1972.
Corn Exchange, Corn Exchange St./Wheeler St.
Opened as a corn exchange in 1875, replacing the older one.
First used for theatre in 1956.
Refurbished in the mid-1980s
Cosmopolitan Cinema, Market Passage
Electric Cinema, Market Square Opened in 1911, renamed to the Victoria in 1915. It was approximately two-thirds of the way along the east side of Market Hill. The cinema moved to a new building further north, nearer the corner, in 1931.
Festival Theatre, Newmarket Road
There was a theatre on the site in 1784.
It was rebuilt in 1816 as the Theatre Royal but became a mission hall between 1879-1915.
It was derelict by 1926 when it was reopened by Terence Gray as the Festival Theatre, with stage turntable, first cyclorama in country and state-of-the-art lighting. However it experienced difficulties in mid-30s and closed.
Now operated by the Arts Theatre Trust, it occasionally reopens for special shows.
It still has its Wilkins (National Gallery 1838) interior from 1816.
Hippodrome, Auckland Road (bottom end, next to Midsummer Common)
It showed the early Charlie Chaplin films and he may have appeared in person.
Tudor's Circus moved from Midsummer Common to here in 1895 as The Circus of Varieties. It was down-market compared to the nearby New Theatre.
The Hippodrome was rebuilt in 1913 as The Gaiety Theatre but closed two years later and the building was converted to commercial purposes in 1920.
The site became Cambridge Glassmakers in 1981 and then Midsummer Glassmakers, until about1996 when it became housing.
Kinema, Mill Road
Originally Sturton Town Hall, it showed films from 1910.
Last used for a showing as part of the 1986 Cambridge Animation Festival.
Mumford Theatre
CCAT's theatre, built in 1970 and named after the long-serving Principal Deryck Mumford.
New Theatre, St Andrew's Street
Opposite the 1901 Police Station, the site (then owned by Jesus College) is now the block including the AA shop and Midland Bank.
In 1882 St Andrew's Hall skating rink became disused and in 1883-6 was converted to a theatre as the New Theatre Royal in the hope of the imminent University derestriction of term-time plays. Charles & Sidney Chaplin played there in Sherlock Holmes. Footlights performed here in May Week from 1883 until the Arts Theatre opened in 1936.
Closed in 1935, having been a Theatre-Cinema for a while.
Reopened as a cinema in 1947 though from 1948 it reverted to stage shows, including strip-tease. It finally closed in 1956 and was demolished in 1960-1.
Odeon, Hobson Street
Old Corn Exchange, Downing St.
Opened as a corn exchange in 1842. (The site was on St Andrew's Hill, formerly known as Hog Hill due to the Hog & Horse Fair held there.)
When the current Corn Exchange opened in 1875 this became a shopping centre - the Arcade.
In 1884 Ernie Hayward converted it to a variety music hall. It closed in 1895.
The site was used as a garage until being demolished in 1951.
Site now occupied by the Holiday Inn.
Old Theatre
Built in 1790 in Regent St. but never used; site is now the porter's lodge of Downing College
The Playhouse, Mill Road
Kids Sat. matinees led to the row of holes gouged by pennies while queueing - still to be seen in the Covent Garden wall of what is now the Salvation Army shop.
Was Fine Fare until about 1989.
Is the site of the mill of Mill Road, with Mill Street at the rear. The actual windmill tower was a little further along, roughly where the Standard Tandoori is now, roughly opposite Emery Street. Its sails were blown off in 1840 which seems to have ended its career.
Regal Cinema, St Andrews Street
The old Castle Hotel (established before 1243), opposite the New Theatre, was destroyed by fire in 1934.
It was replaced by Regal Cinema in 1937.
Subsequently the ABC, Cannon, MGM, Virgin (briefly) and back to the ABC in July 1996.
Closed on 24-Jul-1997, due to competition with the Warners multiscreen, even though it was cheaper, had the largest screen, the latest in sound systems, far more comfortable seats and better-behaved customers. It even had double seats in the back row...
Sold to a property developer. In September 1999 opened as a J.D. Wetherspoon pub (ground floor) and the Arts Picture House 3-screen arts cinema upstairs in August.
The earlier Regal also had pop concerts: Cliff Richard 1959, Beatles 1963 March & Nov., Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison.
The Rendevous
Specialised in the Undergrad. trade
Possibly the same as the c1920-1934 restaurant in Bene't St., where Waits was in the 1980s and 1990s.
Rex Ballroom then Cinema
Magrath Avenue, behind Shire Hall.
Closed 1972, demolished 1979, now housing.
Theatre Royal, Newmarket Road
Tivoli, Mitcham's Corner
The town's 2nd purpose-built cinema, 1925.
Now the Fresher & Firkin.
Victoria Assembly Rooms, Market Square
Showed films from 1910
Reopened in 1931 as the Victoria Cinema, replacing the Electric Cinema.
It was reconed to be the finest in the City, with 70mm projectors, a very wide screen, a shallow two-tiered auditorium (maximising the effect) and with suberb sound. It was perfect for the late 1970s "blockbusters".
Demolished (except for its Listed facade) in 1988 for Marks & Spencers. Thorn EMI promised a six-screen multiplex to replace it.
Warner Bros. Multiscreen/Village, Grafton Centre
Opened in March 1995.
Very uncomfortable seats, far-too-loud sound system, customers constantly coming and going for popcorn and drinks - and consuming them noisily.

Cambridge : History