Picture Palace to Penny Plunge: Reading Cinemas

Twenty different cinemas have graced Reading’s streets over the years, many long forgotten and some of the earliest very short-lived. Picture Palace to Penny Plunge tells the story of the era of the single-screen cinema in Reading, from the travelling shows at the turn of the twentieth century, its heyday with the Vaudeville Electric Theatre in the 20s, through to today’s multiscreen entertainment ‘villages’ and outdoor screenings. It traces the technological developments and how they influenced the types of buildings, the numbers of seats, prices, programmes, refreshments and ownership.  It describes each cinema, in the order of its opening, and includes appendices listing some of the films made in or near Reading, and some of the film actors and directors with Reading connections. Illustrated throughout with contemporary photographs and drawings, this book will bring back happy memories and is a unique record of Reading’s cinematic history.

About the author: 

David Cliffe was born at Macclesfield, Cheshire, in 1946, when there were five cinemas operating, all of which he remembers. He studied English language and medieval English literature at the University of Leeds followed by a postgraduate diploma in librarianship. He worked at the public library in Reading for the entirety of his career in a variety of posts, the last one being Local Studies Manager. This fitted well with his long-term interest in local history and in his retirement, David continues to work on the vast and extensive local studies collection at Reading Central Library, making more of it available on line by cataloguing and scanning, on a voluntary and unpaid basis. He is also Chairman of both the Berkshire Local History Association, and the History of Reading Society.

In 1978, he wrote The Stranger in Reading: an Unofficial Guide, published by Reading Libraries, and Roots and Branches published by Two Rivers Press in 2007 to celebrate the centenary of the opening of Battle and Caversham Libraries.  He has three books of Macclesfield history awaiting publication, the first of which, on street-names, is due to publish in 2017.

Picture Palace to Penny Plunge
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