This building first opened its doors to cinema-going public on the eve of World War I. The cinema screened films until the 1990s, then became this pub. On its first day of opening (23/2/14), admission prices to a matinée showing of The House of Temperley ranged from three pence to one shilling. The cinema flourished during the 1920s. A new era was ushered in on 28 April 1930, when The Picture House screened its first ‘talkie’ – The Last of Mrs Cheyney, starring Norma Shearer and Basil Rathbone.
Text about the history of The Picture House.
The text reads: Built for the local independent exhibitor, Goodalls Pictures, the Picture House opened on 23 February 1914 showing The House of Temperley. Blending in with the historic town, the façade has a centrally located gable decorated in Tudor style half-timber beams in black and white. There is a decorative wrought iron canopy, which has stained glass letters spelling out the name Picture House to the front of the building. The original ticket office remained in use throughout its life and is still there today. There was another ticket office down the side of the building, which served customers in the front stalls seating, and this remained in use until the last few years of the cinema’s operation.
Inside the auditorium, seating was arranged on a stadium plan, with a raised stepped section at the rear. There is a barrel-vaulted ceiling, which has decorative bands of plaster. In August 1917 a French built Reed Organ de Luxe Mustel `Celesta’ Concert organ was installed and opened by Birmingham organist Mr CW Perkins. The Picture House was equipped for `talkies’ and the first to be shown here was The Last of Mrs Chaney starring Norma Shearer on 19 April 1930. In July 1930 the Everston family purchased the Picture House and they operated it for the remainder of its cinematic life.
The town of Stafford only had one circuit owned cinema, the Odeon, and the Picture House usually played the ABC release or had a choice of independent releases. It had a new proscenium opening installed in June 1955 when Cinemascope was fitted otherwise the building retained it character through the years. In 1989, the Picture House was designated a grade II listed building by English heritage.
The Picture House was closed on 30 March 1955 after a 3-week run of Disclosure starring Michael Douglas. There were 78 attending the final performance. The building was purchased by Wetherspoon and after planning permission was approved as then converted into the Picture House public house, which opened 6h March 1997.
Along the bar there is a walk of fame for famous films stars.
The text reads: Charles Maude -
Charles Maude played the character of Captain Jack in The House of Temperley, which was the first film to be shown at The Picture House when it opened its doors to the paying public on 23 February 1914. The House of Temperley was based on the novel Rodney Stone by sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Ben Webster -
Ben Webster played the character of Sir Charles Temperley in The House of Temperley.
Norma Shearer -
Norma Shearer Played the character of Fay Cheney in the film The Last of Mrs Cheyney, the first talkie shown at The Picture House on 28 April 1930.
Basil Rathbone -
Basil Rathbone played the character of Lord Arthur Dilling in the film The Last of Mrs Cheyney.
Michael Douglas -
Michael Douglas played the character of Tom Sanders in Disclosure, which was the last film to shown here – shown for a 3 week run before the Picture House closed on 30 March 1995.
The pub still has the original cinema features.
External photograph of the building – main entrance.
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