Site of Shefford Cinema - the building marked 23 - 1927
Shefford's cinema is practically undocumented but from what there is seems to have run for a few years after the First World War. Even the name is uncertain - it may have been the Empire of the New Hall Cinema. G.C.Peck in his Bedfordshire Cinemas published in 1981 by Bedfordshire County Council notes that G.H.Borwell was refused a licence to open on Christmas Day 1920 as was Captain W.Grieve in 1923.
View towards the site of Shefford Cinema February 2008
It was, basically, a barn attached to King's the butchers off Southbridge Street and adjacent to the River Hit [the site annotated 23 on the map above] and served as a home to a travelling cinema once a week. In 1927 the town of Shefford was valued under the terms of the Rating valuation Act 1925; every piece of land and building in the country was assessed to determine the rates to be paid on it. The valuer noted [DV1/C289/23] that the owner and occupier was S.B.King and that the building was constructed of wood and slate; it was a "large building" seating 150. The valuer also noted: "old high wood & slate barn" and "A cinema was run here till recently but now given up & occasionally hired for dances at £1 per night". The building survived, unused, until the autumn of 1939 when children from the newly evacuated Jewish Secondary School in Amherst Park, London were billeted there until a fire burned the place down.