Classic Cinema South Croydon

Classic Cinema South Croydon

Situated in the row between the Swan & Sugarloaf pub, and Bartlett Road

I was told that this building started life as a Salvation Army hall

Whether this is true I can not verify, but it opened as a cinema on Saturday November 26th 1910 as the

Swan Electric Cinema

October 1911 it was acquired by the James Watt circuit and renamed the Central Hall

Was renamed the Dome in 1927, and closed about 1929

Reopened in 1932 as the Savoy, but closed again in 1933

In 1934 it was brought by Sam Seeman, and he had the cinema modernised by the architect Norman Evans

and reopened on September 3rd of that year

The name was changed to Unique Cinema

Cinephoto 2

Cinephoto 1

A local competition was held to find another name, and the final choice was Classic

This was the start of the highly successful Classic circuit

Seated 400 people with six allowed standing at the rear of the stalls

In the centre of the stalls there was a pillar that supported the front of the circle

A seat was positioned behind this pillar, and was a favourite with the usherette to any customer who upset them

This was the last cinema in the Croydon area to have a nitrate film licence, and the council insisted that we had automatic film fire extinguishers fitted to the machines. See Ritz Leicester Sq

These were set off, if the film caught fire, by a piece of gun cotton, about an inch long. This was positioned above the top loop

This fuse would burn rapidly and melt a celluloid band that held the sprung arms of a spiked plunger in place

This spike would then pierce the top of a cylinder of powder, and smother the film fire, and at the same time shut off the power to the projector, and arc

We were also only allowed to have 4000 ft of nitrate film in the box at any one time i.e. two reels

When showing nitrate films we were required to burn any off cuts that we had before throwing them in

the dust bin

This was done in the upturned lid of a dust bin, kept especially for this purpose, in the alleyway behind the cinema

Nitrate film would burn at about twelve inches per second

The rewind room was built on the roof to the right of the box roof

A mercury arc rectifier was housed in the basement under the foyer

The secondary lighting was originally gas, but was converted to 6vdc about 1957

Light bulbs for this were brought from the garage next door.

Some cars still had 6v electrics at this time

The screen masking was altered, by hand, with a winch in a cupboard at the side of the stage

This was operated in full view of the audience

This was a free entertainment for them as when they saw the projectionist at this cupboard they would often

give a cheer

The masking was only fixed at the top, so you had to be sure not to turn the handle too fast otherwise it would swing backwards and forwards for about 30 secs

This also pleased the audience.

We should have got equity payments

Closed 22nd September 1973

The building is still standing and has been used as a Restaurant, and is now a Pub (Classic Pub)

Please click on photo for larger view

Classic Kalee 12, Vulcan arc 1958
Kalee 12

Cinephoto 2
Projection room plan

Programme November 1967