Aldershot had many cinemas, theatres and pubs etc. Most have now closed and many have vanished forever. The remaining few are probably now living on borrowed time. In fact it has recently been announced that both the Empire and the Ritz are to be demolished.
Adjacent to the corner of Alexandra Road and Barrack Road next door to the Alexandra Public House. Built on the site of the old Alexandra Music Hall where Charlie Chaplin made his stage debut, located in Alexandra Road, hence the name.. The cinema closed on 25th March 1967 (I saw Born Free there in 1965). It had a cinemascope screen (probably the first cinema in Aldershot to have this).
The auditorium was simple Art Nouveau style with an apple motif around the auditorium running parallel to the road. A projection box was accessed by sliding a steel shutter from the balcony staircase. A red neon sign ran the full length of the facade which was stucco with faux Doric columns, similar in style to its younger sister, the Empire/Odeon.
The last film shown was "The Jungle Book" in about 1970. It was then sold to Star Cinemas and it became a Star Bingo Club for many years. It was demolished in 1986
In the High Street built on ground once owned by the military. It opened on 1st Aug 1930 and announced at the time as "The only cinema in the district built for the talkies" it was taken over by County Cinemas in 1931. The total seating accomodation is 1550. The interior auditorium is 80' by 100'. Upstairs used to have a restaurant. The cinema organ was a Compton, and until recently resided at the Bygone Village in Fleggburgh, Norfolk. This sadly went out of business and the organ was sold privately before Oct 2004 it's present whereabouts is unknown. The cinema closed in 1981 and later became the Kings Church. Now scheduled for demolition. You can read more about the cinema here. It was sold to J. Arthur Rank and re-named Odeon from 18th January 1964 and closed on 17th October 1971.
Located in Station Road opposite the old Post Office. It was affectionally known as the "fleapit". Opened as the Picture Palace Theatre in 1912, it was designed by architect John Priestly Briggs from the office of Frank Matcham & Co. The original seating capacity was 708.
It was still shown as operating as an independent cinema in 1963 and 1965, known as the Palace Cinema with 626 seats. It closed on 12th July 1977 and was sold to Rushmoor Council and was leased out, re-opening on 26th December 1977.
By the time of its final closure with the screening of regular films on 30th September 1985, it had been given Grade II Listed status. It remained derelict until Spring 1989 when plans were put forward to spend £1m on a facelift and conversion into a nightclub. This continues today (2005), under the name of VOX Nightclub
Originally named the Manor Park Pavilion, it opend on 27 Dec 1926. The cinema closed sometime in the 1950s and became a fruit and vegetable warehouse owned by the Uglow company. It was built about 1924 or 25 as a single auditorium with a single screen by County Cinemas. Once described as 'being replete with every modern comfort', it originally screened silent films but was updated and refurbished in the early 1930's being the first cinema in Aldershot to show 'talkies'.
The interior was fairly plain but had a barrel vaulted ceiling with ornate ventilation panels with its projection room built outside and above the circle foyer roof. The cinema was closed about 1961 or 62.
Star Cinema Group wanted to reopen it as a bingo hall in the early 1970's but this never happened and failure of this plan led to demolition. An office block now stands on the site.
The Pavilion generally did second screenings or transfered runs of films shown at the ABC/Ritz or Empire/Odeon. The Pavilion Cinema closed on 29th September 1956. The office block which was later built on the site is named Campbell House.
Next door to the Empire in the High Street it opened on 13th May 1937 the last to open in Aldershot and the last to close. It became a bingo hall in later years with the upper circle divided into 3 studio cinemas. On the corner of the building opposite the site of the old police station there was a ladies hair stylists for many years. Read more about the Ritz here. The cinema had a Wurlitzer 3/8 organ rising from the floor. Fortunately it has been saved and is now in private hands in Spalding Lincs.
Theatres and Music Halls:
Situated in Gordon Road between Birchett Road and Elms Road. Built in 1891 and demolished by the late 1950s as a result of a fire. James Mason made his theatrical debut here in 1931. Allegedly so did Charlie Chaplin, but I don't have any facts to back this up. In 1898 the manager was Clarence SOUNES.
Built in 1913 and located on the corner of Birchett Road and Station Road. It replaced some derelict cottages and buildings dating from the 1850s.