Headington Cinema, New High Street
Photograph: © Graham Paul Smith
Right This detail from a postcard dating from the 1920s shows Headington Cinema (then called New Cinema) at the top of New High Street (which was then still the high street of New Headington village).
The poster near the entrance shows that a film with John Gilbert is on the bill.
The whole postcard and more about the adjoining shops can be seen in the old postcards section of this website.
In 1918 Edwin James Hall moved into Clifton House at 90 London Road. This detached house (shown below prior to demolition in 1991) had a large L-shaped garden with a back entrance on New High Street.
After failing to get planning permission to build a cinema on the opposite side of the London Road, Hall converted his own house into three shops and then bought the three adjoining London Road shops known as Belle Vue Terrace. He then used the south end of the gardens of these six shops to build a cinema facing on to New High Street.
The 1921 map (below left) shows the L-shaped garden of Clifton House and Belle View Terrace immediately to the west. The 1939 map (below right) shows how the cinema was slotted into those four gardens.
The New Cinema, as it was known, was officially opened at 5.40pm on Monday 8 October 1923, and the programme for the first three days (all silent, of course), lasted 3½ hours. It comprised a new main film (Dr Mabuse the Gambler), supported by a feature (Lilac Sunbonnet), a documentary (Across the World), and the first instalment of a serial called Nick Carter.
In the 1930s the fish & chip shop at 1A New High Street, used to store bicycles for people who went to the cinema.
When Hall died in 1960, his son Edward leased the cinema to Unifilms of London, who renamed it the Moulin Rouge, but failed to get planning permission for an illuminated windmill sign with revolving lights.
When Bill Heine took over the management of the cinema in 1980, he encountered a similar problem after adorning it with an enormous pair of can-can legs, sculpted by John Buckley (later to create the Headington Shark); but he outwitted the planners with his usual chutzpah by renaming the cinema “Not the Moulin Rouge”, claiming that the legs could not be an advertisement for something that by its very name emphatically denied any connection with any dancing girls.
This cinema came under the aegis of Bill’s Penultimate Picture Company, which also ran the Penultimate Picture Palace (now renamed the Ultimate Picture Palace) in Jeune Street, Oxford and the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton. When the [Not the] Moulin Rouge in Headington closed in 1991, the legs were transferred to the roof of his Brighton cinema, and are still there.
The Headington cinema, together with what remained of Mr Hall’s six shops on the London Road, was demolished in 1991 to make way for a new corner shop and the flats at Standon Court. The Penultimate Picture Palace Company collapsed in 1994.
The current Feather & Black shop (above) replaced the last remnant of Belle Vue Terrace on the London Road, while Standon Court (below) replaced Headington Cinema and the building to the south