Electric slide back in time with Stephanie Cottle and take a look at one of Blackpool’s historic buildings.
Electric theatres, or cinemas as we now know them, offered an inventive and relatively cheap way of providing entertainment to the masses throughout the Victorian era, with moving film quickly becoming the most popular form of visual entertainment of the time. As the years moved on and cinematic experience evolved, for a fairly small fee the big screen provided a glimpse of the spectacular. Somewhat of a spectacle itself by 1912, it is only fitting that Blackpool does cinema in style.
Situated on Albert Terrace and seating 905 in total, the Princess Electric, in comparison to the two other picture houses already established in Blackpool (The Hippodrome on Church Street and the Imperial Picture Palace on Dickson Road), was certainly the most prestigious of the three. Red plush velvet seats, state of the art equipment and a programme of historical, dramatic and educational pictures saw a steady stream of spectators heading to the building.
After the reverberation of electric guitars fell silent, the building hosted an indoor market. The huge change in operation saw multiple amendments made to the interior of the building. The staggered seating was removed and the lower floors levelled. But again, the market operated for only a short amount of time.
By the late-90s it became another club, The Waterfront, followed by Sanuk and then Club Domain. I’m not sandgrown, so unfortunately I never had the privilege of attending any of these establishments but I have heard numerous tales of late night frivolity going on within those four walls. Most of the people I’ve discussed these clubs with remember them fondly, dancing, laughing and attempting to traverse the building’s many steps in six-inch heels. There may be the odd shudder from person to person but I’m chalking that up to recollected hangovers. As BierKeller in 2017-18 it saw it’s last customer stagger outside at 6am and the building fell silent once more.
After all their hard work getting the space ready to welcome audiences, the volunteers have turned their attention to the stage. Wonderland, the first full-scale production to be hosted at The Old Electric, is an immersive theatre experience full of topsy-turvy tales. So, if you spot a white rabbit or a parading dodo on the promenade, they have more than likely popped out of the rabbit hole on Springfield Road. The group is always welcoming new members, so why don’t you see where the rabbit hole leads for yourself?
Visit The Old Electric at Springfield Rd, Blackpool FY1 1QW
Or check out the website: theoldelectric.co.uk
A special and very big thank you to Anne Cameron for the archival information that I have used within this article.
Header image: aerial view of Princess Cinema, July 1932. Credit http://cinematreasures.org/
Show Comments (0)