This is a nostalgic but authentic recall of those days, or should it be nights, when not only the centre of Croydon but also its outlying areas were bright with the lights of cinemas advertising the latest vehicle of the latest heart-throbs of the film industry. Well over a hundred photographs and many reproductions of old advertisements illustrate the details of each one of Croydon Borough’s 37 cinemas. Actually, the Borough’s boundaries have been stretched a bit so that Upper Norwood’s four picture houses, which did, after all, serve Croydon residents, could be included. ‘Four?’ did you ask? Yes, but the book will have to tell you about them.
The long introduction was fascinating; it is a history of the growth and decline of the cinema industry in Croydon. The rest of the book, on the cinemas themselves in order of opening, inevitably takes on the appearance of an embellished list, but the contents of that list include a surprising variety of facts. Did you know that the film stars John Stuart and Anna May Wong were present at the opening ceremony of the Rialto, Upper Norwood, in October 1928? Or that the first cinema to open in Croydon was the Station Picture Hall in May 1908? Or that it had no public toilet? There is no doubt that the authors have thoroughly researched their subject.
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