At The Pictures
A Century of Cinemas in the Potteries and Newcastle
Moving Pictures first came to Stoke in 1896. People saw early film shows affectionately called the flickers in local town halls and other kinds of premises, and in fairground booths called Bioscopes. We see and hear the last surviving bioscope organ in action.
With a history of accidents and fires, the Cinema Act of 1909 said that films could only be shown in custom-built Picture Houses or Cinemas, and George Barber opened the first cinema in the Potteries in October 1909.
Within a couple of years, dozens of small picture houses had opened locally and their numbers grew over the next two decades. By the 1930s, few new cinemas were built but they would be the areas finest picture palaces; the Odeon, the Danilo, the Broadway.
This documentary charts the history of local cinemas and features interviews with many involved in bringing the magic of the movies into people’s lives: managers, projectionists, usherettes and cinemagoers themselves. A typical cinema organ is played for us by the last of the Odeon organists. There is a selection of archive film trailers and cinema adverts.
This is a combination of history, anecdotes and personal reminiscences plus photographs and rare archive film which brings alive the days when it was a real treat to be "at the pictures".