About this image
The Alexandra Electric Theatre started life as a roller skating rink in 1909 but the building was converted into an electric theatre four years later, opening as such on 6 October 1913 with seating for 1,200. The proprietors indicated it was 'their earnest desire to provide patrons with the very best and latest films procurable, regardless of cost, together with high class variety'. Initially at least, there seems to have been a preoccupation with films about death: the main film for the first three days was titled Delivered by Death, followed by At Handgrips with Death, while one of the posters in this view advertises Sentence of Death!
The ornate stone-faced frontage (seen here looking north-east) with its stained glass windows and electric lighting was demolished in 1939 and replaced by a new entrance on the corner of Hartington Street (out of shot to the right). This was in art deco style and featured a semi-circular canopy and a tall rectangular tower. However, post-World War Two custom declined and The Alex, as the cinema had become, screened its last film in 1953. The premises were then converted into the Trocadero Ballroom and remained as such until the night of 18 October 1982 when the building was completely destroyed by fire. Subsequently a development of flats - Trocadero Court - was constructed on the site.
This view (a wider angle version of DCHQ010160) also shows the apparently associated shop of Thompson, confectioners and tobacconists, which no doubt served the needs of the theatre's patrons. Close examination reveals jars of sweets and bunches of grapes and bananas in the window, the fruit appearing black in colour. Lest this be thought to be an indication of its 'ripeness', it should be pointed out that the film emulsions of this era sometimes rendered anything yellow in colour as darkish in tone.
Advertised prominently on the roof of the shop is another film From Circus to Race-Course for which some details have been discovered. Contemporary publicity describes it as 'a Maginificent 3500ft Drama of Sporting Life ... A Sensational Drama of the sawdust ring and of the turf track. A stirring story of the love affairs of a tight-rope performer and a jockey. Full of the romance of the glare and spangles of the Circus and of the excitement of the Turf. A Tale of absorbing interest and of great dramatic power, which you should not miss. Is Gorgeously and Artistically Coloured, Photography Brilliant, Acting Perfect, Vivid Depictions of Circus Life, The Race for the Grand Prix.'
Derby-based postcard publisher F W Scarratt took this photo but its number in his series is unknown.