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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Paignton Picture House

Originally published on Blogspot by Gethin Thomas November 7th 2021

When I first saw this building back in October 2020 the world was quite a miserable place and looking at it back then I wondered if it would ever be saved, as everything we knew seemed to have been either cancelled or postponed.

This building is believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Europe.

Fast forward to September 2021 and things are looking very different. This landmark building will soon be something that the people of Paignton can be proud of.

This old cinema is next to Paignton railway station so I am tempted to say that it is looking like things are back on track.

Paignton Picture House is one of the most remarkable buildings in Torbay and one of the most important historic cinemas in the UK.

Paignton Picture House closed its doors in 1999 and sat vacant without an identified role within our community. A grade II* listed building recognised for its historic and architectural significance, it was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register and highlighted as one of the top 10 priority sites in the south west.

In 2013 a group of dedicated local people with a passion for historic buildings and the power of these assets to deliver regeneration came together to set up a Buildings Preservation Trust. This is where the current story begins. The Trust’s vision is to create a community and cultural hub for Torbay, a place for entertainment, enjoyment and learning.

It was opened on 16 March 1914, and in its early days it featured a 21-piece orchestra, with each member paid a guinea to perform. There are 375 seats: 271 in the stalls, 104 in the circle, plus three private boxes at the back seating an additional eight.


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