Headington history: Miscellaneous

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Former Headington Cinema, New High Street

Moulin Rouge Cinema, New High Street
Photograph: © Graham Paul Smith

A cinema was first proposed for Headington as early as 1914, and an architect's drawing for the “Headington Kiema Theatre” for Mr H. Froude, desiged by A. W. Gardiner of St Aldate's, appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated on 25 February 1914. This would have stood on the north side of the London Road near Osler Road, but never came to fruition.

Clifton House

In 1918 Edwin James Hall moved into Clifton House at 90 London Road. This detached house (shown left prior to demolition in 1991) had a large L-shaped garden with a back entrance on New High Street.

After failing to get planning permission to build a cinema on the north side of the London Road, Hall converted his own house into three shops and then bought the three adjoining London Road shops known as Belle Vue Terrace.

He then used the south end of the gardens of these six shops to build a cinema facing on to New High Street. The 1921 map (below left) shows the L-shaped garden of Clifton House and Belle View Terrace immediately to the west. The 1939 map (below right) shows how the cinema was slotted into those four gardens.



Cinema close up


Right This detail from a postcard dating from the 1920s shows Headington Cinema (then called New Cinema) at the top of New High Street (which was then still the high street of New Headington village).

The poster near the entrance shows that a film with John Gilbert was on the bill.

The whole postcard and more about the adjoining shops can be seen in the old postcards section of this website.

1935 advert

The New Cinema, as it was known, was officially opened at 5.40pm on Monday 8 October 1923, and the programme for the first three days (all silent, of course), lasted 3½ hours. It comprised a new main film (Dr Mabuse the Gambler), supported by a feature (Lilac Sunbonnet), a documentary (Across the World), and the first instalment of a serial called Nick Carter.

A photograph of the New Cinema appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 10 October 1923.

In the 1930s the fish & chip shop at 1A New High Street, used to store bicycles for people who went to the cinema.




Right: Advertisement for Headington Cinema in the Oxford Monthly for 1935

Photographs of the Moulin Rouge: 1957 and 1961.

Hall died in 1960 and his son Edward leased the cinema to Unifilms of London, who renamed it the Moulin Rouge, but failed to get planning permission for an illuminated windmill sign with revolving lights.

When Bill Heine took over the management of the cinema in 1980, he encountered a similar problem after adorning it with an enormous pair of can-can legs, sculpted by John Buckley (later to create the Headington Shark); but he outwitted the planners with his usual chutzpah by renaming the cinema “Not the Moulin Rouge”, claiming that the legs could not be an advertisement for something that by its very name emphatically denied any connection with any dancing girls.

This cinema came under the aegis of Bill’s Penultimate Picture Company, which also ran the Penultimate Picture Palace (now renamed the Ultimate Picture Palace) in Jeune Street, Oxford and the Duke of York’s Cinema in Brighton. When the [Not the] Moulin Rouge in Headington closed in 1991, the legs were transferred to the roof of his Brighton cinema, and are still there.

The Headington cinema, together with what remained of Mr Hall’s six shops on the London Road, was demolished in 1991 to make way for a new corner shop and the flats at Standon Court. The Penultimate Picture Palace Company collapsed in 1994.

The pictures below were taken inside the cinema on the day in 1991 that the demolition team arrived.

Cinema inside

Inside the cinema

Inside the cinema

Details of inside the cinema

The photograph below shows the new flats (Standon Court) that were built on the cinema site in the late 1990s.

Standon Court

© Stephanie Jenkins

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