Bude Community Cinema-  Run by the community for the community

© Bude Community Cinema - Page last updated 02 December 2012

Bude Community Cinema
Bringing films to Bude

Bude Community Cinema is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation and registered charity (1939583)

BCC message line
The number to use to reserve tickets or leave a message

0845 874 0168



It all started with Petvin Bros ‘Touring Electric Cinema’.  Petvin Bros (Frank, Edwin, Fred and Sidney) were Motor Engineers and Traders (also providing Char-a-bang hire and Motor Caravans!) and their name can still be seen in Belle Vue Lane on the sign for Belle Vue Garage.

They toured the area, often to village halls that didn’t have electricity – operating a hand-cranked projector, connected by cable to a dynamo on the vehicle outside, that powered the lamp.  The films were silent, usually with piano accompaniment.


On 2 March the Picture House (seating around 500) in Lansdown Road was opened by Robert Edgar Booth.  The opening matinee (a benefit event in aid of Stratton Cottage Hospital) included The Still Alarm, The Gray Pictograph, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Love Where Art Thou.

The early programmes carried the tagline “To amuse and entertain is good, to do both and instruct, is better” and attributed to ‘Booth’.  A web search suggests that this phrase is self-promotion by the Charles Urban Trading Co in the early 1900s via films directed by Walter R Booth, but there’s no evidence that he is related to Robert Edgar Booth.


Picture House was acquired by William John Graver.  [W J Graver died in 1933]


Picture House was closed for a few days for the installation of sound equipment.


(18 July) Picture House closed for 3 days to permit the move to the ‘new’ Picture House at Summerleaze.


New Picture House opened on 23 July – an impressive Art Deco building, seating 999 and described as one of the best cinemas in the country.

It was built by local Bude builders Cann Brothers in just 6 months for Bude Picture House Ltd, the Directors of which included Mrs A E Graver, widow of W J Graver, and their son Colin E Graver the building’s architect.


Regulations at the time did not permit cinemas to open on Sundays but this was relaxed for use by the troops based locally, mainly American, though it was common practice for locals to be smuggled in.


Picture House was sold to Shipman and King (owners of many other cinemas), and subsequently taken over (date unknown) by Star Cinemas, a subsidiary of EMI.


Hi-Fi sound installed.


Picture House was closed – and the building was granted consent to operate as a Bingo Hall.


The building was sold to David Currie

[Between 1972 and 1985 there are reports that the building was altered internally, creating two smaller cinemas, a skating rink and an amusement arcade.  Who can clarify this?]


The building was demolished to make way for a Somerfield supermarket


The Rebel Cinema at Poundstock, built by Mervyn Collard in 1987/8, opened on 11 August, seating around 115.  The first screening was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  The cinema was subsequently sold to Barry Willis, owner of the family business Rebel Cinemas.

To read Mervyn’s own story, click this link


To mark the centenary of cinema in the UK, the British Film Institute erected a commemorative plaque on the ‘old’ Picture House building.


An article appeared in the Bude & Stratton Post (in September) reporting that there was a plan by Anne Clay and her brother John Justice (owner of JJ’s at Headland) to open a cinema in the Strand, by the end of the year, but …


Rebel Cinema closes.


Bude Community Cinema started.


Rebel cinema re-opens!!!

A brief history of cinema in Bude

Acknowledgments. We are grateful to Old Cornwall Society, Bude for access to their records and the images they made available.  Thanks also to Peter Knight (aka Mad Cornish Projectionist) for his consent to provide a link to an article by Mervyn Collard, who built/owned the Rebel Cinema at Poundstock.

Apology – for any errors or significant omissions.  If you have any information that needs to be added, please contact us via info@budecinema.org.uk

Changing times

The last 120 years have seen significant changes in society and in the technology associated with cinema.

Almost a full circle has taken place – from the days of the ‘Electric Touring Cinema’ when films were taken to the populas; moving on to the ‘centralisation’ of film viewing in purpose-built cinemas (seating perhaps up to 40% or more of the local population).  Cinema attendances diminished as television developed which over time lead to the current high quality digital material from which we now have ‘home cinema’.

Today, in addition to traditional cinemas, we have community centres and village halls using highly portable and sophisticated discs and disc players, projectors and sound systems, has meant film is being taken to audiences once again.

In their time, Bude Picture Houses have not been used solely as a cinema. They’ve hosted church services, and been used as a theatre, for concerts, band practice, pantomimes, spiritualist meetings, the 1937 Coronation celebrations, Remembrance Day events and variety shows.

Petvin Bros Touring Electric Cinema vehicle

Sidney, Edwin and Jess Petvin with hand-cranked projector

The garage sign in Belle Vue Lane

Picture House programme logo

The first Picture House

Drawing of the ‘new’ Picture House

The ‘new’ Picture House

Inside the ‘new’ Picture House

Photo taken just after demolition started

The BFI Plaque on the ‘old’ Picture House building - in 1998
(Courtesy Audrey Aylmer)

The BFI plaque in 2010