Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Town Hall, Bradford on Avon as a cinema 1915

Bradford on Avon was a fairly early adopter of moving pictures. A cinema, called “The Electric Palace” and managed by Will Croydon, had been set up in the old Town Hall by 1915. It used the hall that had just four years before been used as the chamber of the Urban District Council. The photograph from that year shows the building for sale with Vitagraph on top of an advertising board by the steps to the entrance, but the names of the films are not clear.

Alexander Cinema advertisement

In 1919 John Moulton and the works manager of the George Spencer Moulton rubber company, Cecil Reade Quartley, formed the Alexander Picture Theatre Company Limited. By the terms of its incorporation it could carry on all sorts of other entertainment, including a circus!  It was probably not a coincidence that John Moulton’s son, who was born in the following year, was named Alexander. Work was carried out in 1920 by builders William Selfe & Son to adapt a former dyehouse next to the river in St Margaret’s Street, especially constructing an entrance foyer, projection box and raked seating for 500 people and there was a stage for live entertainment shows.

Later in the 1920s, probably following the death of John Moulton in 1925 the cinema was sold to the Avon Cinema Company Ltd who subsequently installed British Thomson Houston sound equipment with the coming of the talkies.

The Alexander closed in 1959 and the Urban District Council converted the building into the present St Margaret’s Hall, removing the raked seating. The Hall is still used as a cinema, with monthly film shows by Bradford on Avon Film Society.