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Theatre One

This building, located at the corner of Cox Street and Ford Street, was originally built as the Alexandra Coffee Tavern, which was opened in 1882 by Samual Allchurch. It had a bar with sawdust on the floor but served tea, coffee and cocoa with pieces of cake. Local tradesmen sent in meat, bones and vegetables which were made into soup. Anyone could buy a can of this for a penny. On the first floor the Alexandra provided a quality lunch for 2s=6d for its more affluent clients. The Coventry Trades Council held its meetings there and on 6th December 1902 a small meeting was held to found the Coventry Labour Representative Committee, which later became Coventry Labour Party.

The Alexandra Picturedrome was opened in 1917 by Elijah Strong, who was the landlord of the General Wolfe Hotel in nearby Foleshill Road. The Cinema's auditorium was constructed behind the original Coffee House. After Elijah Strong died the Theatre was bought by Harold T. A. Philpot in the mid 1930s. In April 1929 it became the first picture house in the city to show a talkie, namely the Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. 

Damaged in the early part of the war the Theatre was sold on to Hugh Orr but building restrictions at the time meant that he could only make the building water tight. However, he acquired equipment from other damaged Cinemas and reopened the Theatre in January 1941. In 1953 the first 3-D film was shown in Coventry at the Alexandra. The Theatre had a Cinemascope Screen and stereo sound installed in 1955.

In 1969 the cinema closed for alterations and re-opened in 1970 as Theatre One. This was converted to a two screen cinema in 1971 and a three screen cinema in 1974.The foyer was damaged by a fire in 1978. Hugh Orr died in 1979 and the Alexandra was taken over by its then manager, Brian Saunders, who in 1989 spent some £65,000 on its refurbishment.

The theatre was sold in 1991 and It was later converted to the Generations Night Club and Restaurant. This also closed and later reopened as Mustard Night Club. The building has been closed and vacant now for some years. 

The Council gave planning permission for the demoliton of the building and the constuction of student flats with retail units on the ground floor in March 2011. Recently there has been a campaign to save the building and use it as an arts centre for the city, but with the roof now off it doesn't seem likely that anyone will be able to save it now! 

There is a story about the campaign to save the cinema on the BBC website and also on the Coventry Telegraph website.

There is also a facebook page dedicated to saving Theatre One.

 

Alexandra Theatre

Theatre One

Photo - Andy McGeechan

Some of the information for this webpage has been gathered from the Arthur Lloyd website.