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The Grosvenor Rooms

 

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110a Prince of Wales Road

One of the least documented cinemas was established in the New Assembly Rooms, which occupied a site known as Grosvenor House with an adjoining fast food outlet. The premises were acquired by George bell of Leamington Spa who opened the venue on 15th June 1912 with a combination of cinema and variety. For a while local cinema entrepreneur F H Cooper had an interest in the cinema, but sold that off fairly quickly in order to fund his building of the Electric Theatre which was only a short distance away.

Seating was on creaking wicker chairs at the Prince of Wales. As this was the silent era, films were originally accompanied by solo piano, then later by small orchestras (including a small orchestra made up of nine ladies). The management served tea and it was said that pensioners were admitted free at some afternoon matinees. Very little is known about the cinema, which survived until 1922 against the competition of the nearby grander establishments.

Its major claim to fame came in its later years where under the title of the Grosvenor Rooms it became a dance hall. In 1963 the Beatles, who had their first album at the top of the charts at the time, made their only appearance in Norwich. For a fee of £250 they gave two 20-minute performances. After setting up their equipment they went to the nearby ABC cinema to see a film and returned to find 1,700 fans waiting to hear them perform. After the show they queued up at a nearby chip shop. A plaque on Grosvenor House, which now occupies the site, commemorates this occasion.

 

Photo: Picture Norfolk.