Pre-launch signing: Saturday, Sept 9, 12 – 1pm: David Cliffe at Waterstones with “Picture Palace to Penny Plunge: Reading’s Cinemas”

Twenty different cinemas have graced Reading’s streets over the years, many long forgotten and some of the earliest very short-lived. In his book, David Cliffe tells the story of the era of the single-screen cinema in Reading, from the traveling shows at the turn of the 20th century, its heyday with the Vaudeville Electric Theatre in the 20s, through to today’s multiscreen entertainment ‘villages’.

David Cliffe will be signing his book, Picture Palace to Penny Plunge:  Reading Cinemas and be available to talk about it alongside a small exhibition of photographs

Where:  Heritage Open Day eventscinema cover at Waterstones, Broad Street, Reading.

When: Saturday 9th September at 12-1pm.

Picture Palace to Penny Plunge is published by Two Rivers Press in collaboration with the History of Reading Society.


If you don’t make it to Waterstones on Saturday, Picture Palace to Penny Plunge: Reading’s Cinema will be launched officially with a short film and refreshments at

Where: Minghella Studios, University of Reading, Whiteknights, RG6 6BT

When: Weds 27th Sept at 7.45-9.30pm. 

The event is free but please email to book as spaces are limited.

Celebrate the launch of David Cliffe’s new book with a short talk by the author and an opportunity to watch archive footage  taken in and around Reading in the early part of the 20th century. Excerpts include an advertising film about Huntley and Palmers biscuits, a film about a Second World War youth camp at Sonning Common, footage of a royal visit to Reading in the 1950s, a documentary about children’s health services about the same time, and pictures of Reading trams and trolleybuses and the widening of Station Hill in the 1930s. Also, possibly, an excerpt from The Thirty-nine steps which is said to have been filmed in Reading’s ‘Palace’ theatre.

David’s knowledge of the social history of Reading is extensive and there will be a chance to chat to the author afterwards, purchase books and have them signed.