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The Biograph
The Biograph Cinema, in Wilton Road, Victoria, was one of the first cinemas to be built in the UK. It opened as the Electric Theatre on 24th May 1909. A plaque on the foyer wall for many years incorrectly stated: "Biograph 1905 England’s First Cinema. Originally called Bioscope, the first name for cinema." A press release in 1965 stated (again incorrectly) that it opened in March 1905 and was the first cinema to be granted a licence under the Cinematograph Act.[1] It was extensively rebuilt in 1927.

The Biograph became very popular during the second World War. In the 1960s it was one of London's gay landmarks and nicknamed the "Biogrope". The Metropolitan Police's increased surveillance of public lavatories drove men looking to "pick up" into the comfort and darkness of the cinema. Men would often change seats to sit next to a young man.

Kenneth Williams visiting in 1952 "in the hope of traditional entertainment" complained bitterly, after finding it "terribly desolate".[2]

"Admission around 1964 was 2/6 (half-a-crown), about 13p in today's money and coinage. And very good value too!! The lighting was changed after an article in the News of the World wrote about the activity there."[3]

It was suddenly closed and demolished in 1983.

See also

Carlton Cinema.


  1. "Biograph Cenema"
  2. Matt Houlbrook, Queer London