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Laindon
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The Radion cinema High Road, Laindon


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Laindon Picture Theatre, High Road - Laindon Louis Silverman with his wife and family  
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Location: High Road, Laindon
Year of photo: Circa 1929
Copyright: Lesley Moss
Source: Lesley Moss
Comments: The two films, Moulin Rouge as directed by Ewald Andre Dupont and The Physician starring Miles Mander were released in 1928 which may make this one of the earliest known operational photographs to exist.
Location: Unknown
Year of photo: Circa 1925
Copyright: Lesley Moss
Source: Lesley Moss
Comments: The proprietor Louis Silverman with his wife Jenny and their two sons Sidney and Jeffrey.
 
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Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon
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Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Unknown
Year of photo: c.1950s
Copyright: None
Comments: The Radion cinema, possibly in the 1950s.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: August 1969
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments:
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: August 1969
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: A rare interior shot of the Radion cinema.
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Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon
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Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: April 1968
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: Mrs Hayes seated between the two usherettes in the ticket kiosk.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: April 1968
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: Alf Hayes, the cinema manager, pictured between the two 35mm Cinemascope Arc Light Projector's.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: August 1969
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments:
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Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon
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Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: April 1968
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments:
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: April 1968
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: The High Road seen looking towards St. Nicholas Lane with a fenced off construction site adjacent to the Laindon shopping centre which was then under construction. One of two shots taken by Alan Balding using his Halina Paulette camera from the roof of the Radion cinema.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: April 1968
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: The High Road looking towards the station. Carey Bros. timber and builders merchants can be seen on the left just beyond the public conveniences that once stood on the corner of Laindon Link. Further on to the right the Laindon Hotel can be seen, partly obscured by a tree.
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Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon Radion Cinema, High Road - Laindon
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Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: Alan Balding
Year of photo: August 1969
Copyright: Alan Balding
Source: Alan Balding
Comments: One of the last shots of the Radion taken during demolition work. The Laindon Shopping centre Clock House building can be seen under construction in the background.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: 27/01/2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: Telegraph pole and drop kerbs can still be seen over 30 years later from this view taken in New Century Road.
Location: High Road, Laindon
Photographer: P.G.C.
Year of photo: 27/01/2005
Copyright: Basildon History Online
Comments: The new purpose built Laindon library now occupies the site of the former cinema. An original light can still be seen.
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The Radion cinema in Laindon stood next to a small parade of shops in the High Road between Somerset Road and the corner of New Century Road.

Opened in March 1929 as the Laindon Picture Theatre, it offered seating for 680, two dressing rooms and a stage on which variety shows were often performed.

The first proprietor was Louis Silverman. Mr Silverman, who would also serve on the Laindon Parish Council, ran it with the help of his wife Jenny and their son Sidney. In the 1930s, possibly around 1936/37, it changed hands and fell under the control of Mr. B.E. Fortesque of Radion (Laindon) Ltd*. The cinema's final private owner from around the early 1950s and into the 1960s (possibly to closure) was former chairman of Basildon Council Albert Phelps (App Theatres Ltd)*, who was also one-time proprietor of the (now demolished) Ritz cinema in Chapel Street, Billericay. Mr Phelps, known as Bert, may have sold the cinema to Basildon Development Corporation who, if so, would have been the final owner through to closure in 1969. In common with other small scale cinemas it became affectionately known by locals as the "fleapit."

The film programme ran from Monday to Saturday with both afternoon and evening screenings. A children's Saturday morning film show was also established. Sunday cinema was eventually added in 1938 after an unsuccessful attempt in 1933. In February 1938 the Legal Committee of Billericay Urban Council responding to owners Radion Ltd's request to open the Laindon Picture Theatre on Sundays recommended the application subject to a public meeting. Later that year on August 1st Radion (Laindon) Ltd had a private car decorated for an appearance in the annual Laindon Carnival. Although an exact date or approximate time of the name-change from Laindon Picture Theatre to Radion Cinema has yet to materialise this carnival appearance might have been used to promote the change of name.

A typical 'Times of Opening' schedule from the late 1940s into the 1950s was:
Monday, Thursdays and Saturdays: 1.15 pm.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays: 4.15 pm.
Sunday: 4.45 pm.
Prices of admission for the same period - with decimal equivalent in brackets - were: 9d. (4p), 1/-. (5p), 1/3. (6p), 1/6. (7½p),
1/9. (9p) and 2/3. (11p), with reduced prices for children.

The building was also used to stage talent competitions, Remembrance Day services and on occasion "All-Star Wrestling" evenings and, briefly before closure, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday bingo sessions beginning on September 11th, 1968. One notable event from May 1952 saw the Laindon Carnival Queen, Brenda Buckenham, crowned at a special ceremony on the stage. Years earlier in May 1938, while still the Picture Theatre, the tap dancing child film star and Britain's answer to Shirley Temple, Hazel Ascot, 10, was the special guest at the carnival event where she crowned Elsie Sykes, 16, of High Road, Laindon, Carnival Queen.

On the night of closure the final evenings film show began with 'The Syndicate' starring June Richie and ended with the X rated thriller 'Wait Until Dark', starring Audrey Hepburn on Monday February 3rd, 1969.

Following closure extra bingo sessions were added before the Radion Bingo Club relocated to the nearby community hall in Aston Road. The former cinema was then demolished as the area was needed as part of a road widening scheme, which saw the creation of two roundabouts and a duel carriageway section of the High Road between Laindon Link and St. Nicholas Lane. Opposite New Century Road and parallel with the High Road to Worthing Road from the 1970s until developed for housing in the 1990s was a large car park. Interestingly the bingo club kept the Radion name alive well into 1970.

On the site of the old cinema now stands the new Laindon Library which relocated from the shopping centre to a new purpose built building in March 2001. The cinema's seats were saved and used for many years in the Basildon Arts Centre (later Towngate Theatre) before ending up in the Grandstand at Basildon United's football ground at Gardiner's Close. The somewhat odd looking triangular structure sitting atop the entrance supporting an illumination, and erected following the name change to Radion, survived to demolition.

Five former managers of the Radion were Mr. H.C. Beale in 1940 followed later in the decade by Mr. G.E. Savage who handed over to Mr. H.W. Dixon in the early 1950s. In February 1954 Mr. Thomas William Starks succeeded Mr. Dixon and from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s and possibly closure Mr. Alf Hayes. A former projectionist was Michael Marchant from Laindon who worked there full-time from 1957 to 1964. The telephone number for the cinema from opening was listed as Laindon 90 and this had changed to Laindon 2190 during the 1950s and into the 1960s finally becoming Basildon 44880 in November 1967 when the Laindon exchange at High Road/Vowler Road closed.

Acknowledgement
The photograph of the picture theatre circa 1929 and that of Mr Louis Silverman with his wife and family were kindly supplied by Lesley Moss (nee Silverman), daughter of Jeffrey Silverman. Many of the other Radion photographs were taken by Alan Balding, who worked as assistant projectionist at the cinema in the 1960s.

Page added: 2001

Other points of interest
(1) A late 1920s publication entitled "The Key", an illustrated guide to the business and residential possibilities of the district, and published by The Key Publishing Company, Rochford Road, Southend gives mention of the British Legion preparing a large building for the purposes of a cinema. It is not known if this was in fact the Radion Cinema.

(2) A book entitled The Cinemas of Essex by Bob Grimwood (I.S.B.N. 0 946406 36 7) published in 1995, has an entry for the Radion cinema where within the article an apparent name change from Laindon Picture Theatre to Picture Palace is said to have occurred sometime in the 1930s. No photographic evidence of the cinema bearing this name is known to exist nor have any documents or newspaper articles of the time or local recollections come to light to support the alleged change of name.

(3) Despite the name change to Radion as having occurred in the 1930s the March 1940 edition of the 'Business and Professional' edition of the Classified Telephone Directory compiled by J. Weiner Ltd of New Oxford Street, London on behalf of the Post Office has an entry for the Laindon Picture Theatre at Laindon 90.

(4) The name Radion wasn't exclusive to Laindon as another cinema bearing that name opened in Newport, Lincoln on 27th March, 1939. This cinema closed in July 1960 but the building remains and currently occupied since November 1980 by BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

(5) The London Gazette edition 22nd June, 1928 under the heading Joint Stock Companies has an entry for Laindon Cinema Syndicate Limited giving a period of three months from 22/06/1928, unless cause is shown to the contrary, to be struck off the Register and the Company dissolved. The same publication in a later edition dated 30th October, 1928 confirmed that the Company had been dissolved on 30/10/1928.

(6) Radion (Laindon) Limited dissolved on 15th September, 1961. Public advance notification published in the London Gazette, 19th May, 1961. Supplement: 42358; Page: 3764.

(7) A.P.P. Theatres Limited incorporated on 10th July, 1962.

Text researched and written by William Cox, 2001 with revisions and additions 2002-2007, 2011-2012.
Copyright © 2001-2007,2011-2012, B. Cox - Basildon History Online. All rights reserved.

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