The Electric Cinema on Portobello Road in West London is the UK’s oldest surviving working cinema. Opened in 1911 with the first public screening on 27th February of that year. I have been visiting the Electric Cinema since I was 12 years old (during the 70’s) when my Mother, who had a market stall on Portobello, took me after a days work. I remember seeing double-bills there, probably movies that were not intended for a twelve year old! We got our tickets from the little metal flap dispenser in the box office and moved our seats a few times, partly to find one that actually functioned and (on one memorably stormy night) to avoid the leaks from the roof! I have been coming to the cinema ever since but nothing beats the thrill of those first visits and an introduction to film that has remained a passion. So on Sunday 27th February this year, on the occasion of the Electric’s 100th Birthday I naturally felt excited by the possibility of making a photographic document of the cinema on the centenary of its first screening to the public. To this end I chose my main point of focus to be the projection room, as it seemed to me to be the fundamental heart of the cinema. There is also a local legend that John Christie the notorious Notting Hill serial killer (see film”10 Rillington Place” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066730/ with Richard Attenborough in the role of Christie) worked as a projectionist during the 1940’s and at the time he was actively murdering people.
Many thanks to Electric House and to Adam the projectionist who allowed me at short notice to shoot with him. It was a great experience actually being in the little room from which the light would beam over my head; as a child in the seats below. For an excellent illustrated history of the Electric Cinema since its earliest days visit http://www.electriccinema.co.uk/electric_vintage.php
Oh, and pay a visit – it really is the best little cinema in London.