About this image
A group of small boys walking down Babington Lane have had their attention taken by the new Midland Electric Theatre with its wedding cake-like exterior and - unusually for Edwardian children - are seemingly oblivious to the presence of a photographer recording them for posterity. This is probably because the camera has been set up on its tripod in an alleyway off the street and so would not have been visible, thus making this something of a clandestine shot.
The 1,100-seat Midland Electric Theatre was opened on 27 July 1910 and as the frontage looks quite fresh here and as the photographer, Derby-based postcard publisher F W Scarratt, would no doubt have been keen to issue a card depicting the new establishment, it is reasonable to assume that this view was taken early in its career. The writing on the facade proclaims that it is 'Open Daily 3pm to 10.30pm' with 'Continuous Exhibits' and a small queue has formed at the outdoor ticket admissions window.
The posters plastered all over the adjoining gable wall advertise 'Kinemacolor Urban-Smith Patents' and show some colourful tropical birds. Kinemacolor, which used a simplified system of red and green filters, was the first commercially successful colour motion picture process and was the invention of George Albert Smith of Hove in Sussex, being promoted by the entrepreneur and film producer Charles Urban. It was launched in 1908 as the 'eighth wonder of the world' and 'The only system of Animated Pictures in the Actual Colours of Nature', claims that might well account for the level of interest being shown here - the films were only shown in designated Kinemacolor theatres.
The Midland Electric Theatre became the Picture House in 1913 and the Ritz in 1957, but closed three years later, the building then being demolished to make way for a supermarket.
The circular hanging sign that intrudes into the picture on the right indicates an adjoining shop is an agency for Rudge-Whitworth Cycles.
The number allocated by F W Scarratt to this view in his series is not known.