The former Lyric Palace

From the website of the Twickenham Museum:

“…When the Lyric Palace opened in 1911 opposite York House on Richmond Road, Twickenham, it paved the way for a proliferation of local cinemas.

A visit to the pictures circa 1900 was an exciting if haphazard event that could take place in a music hall, a fairground booth, an old shop or a converted railway arch. Most of these venues were dirty and flea-ridden, and the quality of the picture left much to be desired. A dramatic step forward took place in 1910, when licensing came into effect to ensure the public’s safety from the notoriously flammable film. Reels of film were to be kept in a projection booth separate from the audience, and more than one exit from the building was required in case of fire. For the first time, purpose-built cinemas such as the Lyric Palace were constructed. Rectangular in shape with a barrel-vaulted roof, these were designed with seating on a raked angle to ensure that all members of the audience could view the screen…

The first all-dialogue film, The Lights of New York, was released in 1928, followed closely by The Jazz Singer. Audience reaction was so favourable that Britain was the first European country to convert its cinemas. By 1930, 63 per cent of all movie houses in the country were wired for sound.

In the rush to exploit the new talking pictures, there was a much-criticised boom in construction as cinemas opened literally next door to each other. A local example of this overbuilding was the Twickenham Cinema (later renamed The Queens and then The Gaumont), built in 1928 only a few yards away from the Lyric Palace. An expensive capital outlay of up to £4,000 was required to fit a silent-era cinema with audio equipment, and many were too old or inadequate to be refurbished. The Lyric, in common with many others across the country, was forced to close down…”

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