New Princes Cinema
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Previously operated by: United Electric Theatres Ltd.
Previous Names: Kings Electric Theatre
Located in the Bank Chambers Arcade. The Kings Electric Theatre was the first purpose-built cinema in Wigan town centre. Erected by United Electric Theatres Ltd. it opened on 1st May 1911, with live acts appearing with the films, with music by the resident Kings London Orchestra, directed by Walter Moore.
The first manager, Will Clark, was replaced after a few months by Walter Smith, a well-known comedian. In December 1919 a new company, The Elite Theatre (Wigan) Ltd. took over the lease.
The Kings Electric Theatre closed in 1922 and yet another company, The Princes Cinema Ltd. was formed in the December, financed with a £4,000 mortgage. The cinema re-opened with “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, starring Mary Pickford. Mr H. Baker was appointed manager, and the name changed to New Princes Cinema.
Live entertainment continued to be part of the attractions for several more years.
The last silent film was “The Two Loves”, with Ronald Coleman and Vilma Banky. Sound equipment costing £6,000 was installed and the New Princes Cinema was the first cinema in Wigan to show a ‘talkie’, “Show Boat”, with Laura La Plante, on 19th August 1929.
In May 1932 manager Maurice Carr faced an unusual problem when stories started circulating about an infestation of vermin. He was so outraged that he offered a £100 reward for information as to who had started these rumours, and announced to the local press that the building was open to inspection at any time.
However, even without that issue, the New Princes Cinema was beginning to become something of a ‘white elephant’. It changed hands again in 1933 when it was acquired by Falcon Pictures, a syndicate of local businessmen. The cinema was demolished and replaced, on an adjacent plot, by a completely new Princes Cinema (see separate Cinema Treasures entry).
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