Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Going to the “flicks" on Longford Road in Chorlton in 1913

Now as a story it is less a detailed and comprehensive piece of history and more just another tantalising clue to how we enjoyed ourselves in 1913.

The Skating Rink and Pucturedrome, 1946 from 1906
Back then the cinema was still in its infancy but that said already from Didsbury down to Withington and across to Whalley Range there were picture houses.

Some like the one on Elm Grove in Didsbury were pretty small fry.

It was called the Bijou Electric Theatre and could accommodate 350 but still bigger than the Manley Park Palace on Clarendon Road which could seat just 200 customers.

Advert, 1914
For those wanting a bigger cinema locally there was only the Chorlton Pavilion on Wilbraham Road which could hold an audience of 800.  It had been operating as a Variety Hall from the early 20th century and was the best you could get in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in 1913.

Or so I thought, because just a few minute’s walk away was the Longford Picturedrome, on the corner of Longford and Oswald Road.

It was a place that has slowly crept into my knowledge.

It  first came to my attention when I came across a painting by J Montgomery who painted the place in 1946 from a photograph dated 1906

He referred to it as “Chorlton Skating Rink (later the Picturedrome”.

There is a reference to as the Chorlton Skating Rink when it was wound up as a company in 1916, but I have always been fascinated by the Montgomery’s use of Picturedrome.

And now I am a little closer to adding a bit more to the story.

In 1914 it is listed as the Longford Picturedrome seating 600 and its proprietor was a James Morland.

Sadly that is all we have and the listing did manage to substitute Street for road in the address.

There was a Mr Moreland living in Old Trafford just a few years earlier but that is it.

As to why it closed I have yet to find out.

It may be the competition with its close rival proved too much, or the Great War finished it off.

That said I am confident that we will find the answer in time.

Location Chorlton

Picture; “Chorlton Skating Rink (later the Picturedrome” J Montgomery, 1946 m80132, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, and advert from The Kinematograph Year Book, 1914 page 43

*The Kinematograph Year Book Program Diary and Directory 1914

1 comment:

  1. Longford Picturedrome AKA Longford Hall was indeed a skating rink. The timber structure was built in 1909 on a 6000 sq.yrd plot of land fronting Longford Road between Hartley Road and Oswald Road. In late 1913 it was decided to remodel the premises into a picture hall - the Longford Picturedrome. However in March 1914 the Watch Committee of Manchester City Council declined a licence for the premises (this was strange because offending picture houses would normally have their licences deferred for 6 or 12 months to "get their house in order"). It transpires that the Longford Picturedrome was totally unsuitable for exhibiting films. In an age where film reels were fuel and people smoked in theatres you can understand why the Picturedrome and it's lack of adequate lighting and fire precautions in a wooden building meant their licence application read "refused altogether". And so the Promenade Ballroom was born (after possibly Manchester's shortest lived cinema). It was advertised as having a "cushion acting floor" in addition to a full orchestra. Dance nights were Wednesdays and Saturdays ("snow dance") and admission was 6d. The last dance was held on March 31st 1915 which was the day the premises had to be vacated. The skating rink had been put up for sale the previous month - the lease of £130 p/a was due to expire in June. In April the internal fittings were removed and in May the building was demolished and all fittings, toilets, guttering etc were sold.