Luxurious interior of a modern cinema

The Picture House, Commercial Road, Portsmouth, 1915
The Picture House, Commercial Road, Portsmouth, 1915
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This superb photograph shows the ornate frontage of the Picture House cinema in 1915.

It stood in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, between Edinburgh Road and Stanhope Road.

It was opened on December 16, 1913, and boasted a marble lobby with oak panelling and paintings of scenes from naval history.

The luxurious interior was complemented by the latest equipment including special ventilation filters to disperse smoke in case of fire, and the most modern projectors – guaranteed to be free from vibration – were installed.

A few days after opening, on Saturday, December 20, there was a disastrous fire in the Dockyard which destroyed Semaphore Tower and two men died.

On the following Monday the cinema was showing newsreel of the closing stages of the blaze – quite a scoop in those days.

However, the cinema had a short life. It closed in the mid-1920s and lay derelict until 1936 when it was demolished for redevelopment.