78 High Street,
Long Buckby, NN6 7RD

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The 1st November 2011 issue of Build It magazine contained an article about a young couple who had converted “an old cinema”, in the village of Long Buckby, in west Northamptonshire, into their family home.

Graham Surridge and his partner, Sally Kingston, bought the building for £140,000 in 2004, and spent another £106,000 on the three year conversion. It is set back 40 metres from the road, between rows of terraced cottages.

As the magazine article focussed on the building work, regrettably little information was provided about the building’s former life. It was said that “the old cinema had once been a magnificent building”, but no justification was given for this rather extravagant claim. It is not even clear whether it was purpose-built as a cinema. When the couple acquired it, the building was said to be in “an awful state”; the previous owner had last used it as a shoe factory, which had recently closed down. The building measures 20m deep by 10m wide, so is fairly modest in size, typical of early picture houses.

However, this cinema quite possibly dates from as a recently as 1951, when the Kinematograph Year Book first lists “Cinema, High Street”. That was owned by Mumford and Cooknell, of Banbury. There was one show daily, with two changes of programme each week. The proscenium was 20ft wide.

This was described as a “16mm Kinema” and, perhaps not coincidentally, the village’s other cinema, the Co-operative Hall (see separate Cinema Treasures entry) which was also a 16mm operation, closed down around this time. (Both were listed in the 1951 Kinematograph Year Book, after which only the Cinema is listed.)

So it appears likely that the Cinema was opened as a consequence of the Co-operative Hall’s closure.

Sadly, in the event, the Cinema itself did not, apparently, last long. It was listed in the Kinematograph Year Books until at least 1959, but was gone by 1961 (regrettably, I do not have access to the 1960 edition).

Not entirely surprisingly, none of the architectural features of the Cinema survived when the couple took over, apart from the projection box, which had been gutted. However, the building’s previous cinematic use is, at least, commemorated in the new home’s name, “The Old Picture House”.

Contributed by David Simpson
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