Proclaiming itself to be the oldest working cinema in Britain, the Electric Cinema is a landmark on Station Street in Birmingham. The historic venue recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The first film showed in December 1909, and since then the venue has had an interesting past, including a number of name changes over the years before reverting to its original title in 1993. It became the Select in the 1920s, and then the Tatler News Theatre in 1936. It was rebuilt after the Second World War, and later evolved into the Jacey Cartoon Theatre before showing pornographic films for much of the 1970s. In 1984, it became the Tivoli before it was taken over by yet another owner in 1993. The Electric closed in 2003.
The theatre was a crumbling shell of a building with a leaking roof and a basement piled high with rubbish when its current owner, Thomas Lawes, purchased it in 2004. After a careful refurbishment, and large financial investment, Lawes has created his very own boutique picture house. The building has been returned to its former art deco style, and programming includes various genres of film including mainstream, art house, independent, repertory screen classics, and world cinema. The Electric is a small cinema, but the experience novel. Theatregoers can settle into comfortable red velvet sofa seats and text their orders to the wait staff for snacks and drinks (there’s a full bar, including a La Fée absinthe fountain) that are delivered sofa-side.
The Electric Cinema is truly a movie-lover’s delight.