Picture House

Bridge Street,
Stafford, ST16 2HL

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Goodall's Pictures (1931) Ltd., Goodall's Pictures (1931) Ltd.

Architects: Captain Fred Campbell

Firms: Campbell & Fairhurst

Functions: Bar, Movies (Classic)

Styles: Neo-Classical, Tudor Revival

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 0178.522.2941

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Picture House

Built for local independent exhibitor Walter Goodall, the Picture House opened on 23rd February 1914 with "The House of Temperley".

Blending in with the historic town, the fa├žade 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’. 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 C.W. 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 19th 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 (now the Apollo Cinema), 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 30th March 1995 after a 3-weeks run of "Disclosure" starring Michael Douglas. There were 78 attending the final performance.

It had been purchased by the J.D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs and after planning permission was approved, was converted into the Picture House pub which opened 6th March 1997. In November 2012, the Picture House was equipped with a HD projection screen and began to screen films from the 1960’s and 1970’s on Wednesday evenings, and classic black & white films on Sunday evenings. Admission is free, and of course you can always have a pint or two of beer and a meal.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 10, 2008 at 6:47 am

An exterior photograph of the Picture House pub in April 2006:
http://flickr.com/photos/kromanfromcrs/137369216/
The auditorium as the Picture House pub in April 2006:
http://flickr.com/photos/kromanfromcrs/137613301/

woody
woody on January 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm

photo circa 1992 when it was still an independent cinema, it was like stepping back in time to the 1940’s, the lobby area was almost unchanged with original glass cabinets for the sweets
http://flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2120693345/

Ian
Ian on June 15, 2008 at 6:42 am

Interior shot as a pub taken in June 2008 here:–

View link

Buffer
Buffer on February 10, 2014 at 1:59 am

The interior not as sharp as the pub view but shows the cinema in April, 1989

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson on January 25, 2023 at 12:57 am

I visited the Picture House on Wednesday 11th January 2023 when “Mean Girls” (2004) was being screened. At that time, films were being shown every Wednesday at 9pm, with a different theme each month. For my screening, the theme was “2000’s classics” - see my photograph for the themes, and film listings, for January to April 2023.

I have to say that the experience was not entirely satisfactory. In a really nice touch, the screen is above the bar, which runs across the front of the proscenium arch, so the films are projected as close as is currently possible to the original screen. However, no attempt was made to move pub patrons away from the area immediately in front of the screen so, although the pub was not that busy, the ambient noise did frequently drown out the soundtrack. This didn’t matter too much with a film like “Mean Girls”, as it’s a fairly obvious tale of student bitchiness without that much of a plot. But the next week’s offering was to be the psychological fantasy “Donnie Darko”, which would definitely suffer.

The obvious answer would be to show films where the DVD/Blu-ray has optional subtitles - or even show silent films! But the staff didn’t seem that bothered - they put the film on, 15 minutes late, almost as a bit of an afterthought, and I was the only patron to sit through the entire film. Perhaps things are different when manager Jem Turner, who was profiled proudly tub-thumping the shows in the Winter 2022-23 issue of ‘Wetherspoon News’, is on duty.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on January 25, 2023 at 4:49 am

At The end of the day. The Bar is the income earner. I suspect if there was to much moaning they would just stop the films… After all they are shutting quite a number down. Then the future of these building will be uncertain.

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