The Alexandra was built as a Corn Exchange in 1871 and, as can still...
The Alexandra was built as a Corn Exchange in 1871 and, as can still be seen, it forms an contiguous part of the larger market hall building and boasts a fine Italianate tower over its entrance. The exterior and some original internal features are grade 2 listed.
It was operating as a cinema during the silent era but has also been much used for theatrical purposes and it was not until the balcony was separated off to form screen 2 that it changed its name from "Alexandra Theatre" to "Alexandra Cinema". Some major works were carried out during the 1930s, when presumably the balcony was added along with an altered entrance and new toilet blocks on each side. The front lobby still retains aspects of this with its domed ceiling and glass lighting trough over the main doors.
Little is known of its ownership in earlier years apart from the fact that a local gentleman by the name of Captain Oakey was the proprietor at some time pre World War 2. For many years it was operated by a local company who also had the Imperial Cinema in Queen Street and whose Directors were also major shareholders in 3 of the cinemas in Paignton and Torquay.
When this company decided not to renew its lease in the early 1960s it was acquired by the then manager, Mr C.C.W. Scott who continued to operate it along with other Devon cinemas up until the time of his death in 1986, ably assisted by house manager and secretary Mrs Violet Spooner.
This is a somewhat idiosyncratic building, not without charm, but also constrained by its limited size and layout, but it has always prospered by being right in the heart of this lovely market town.
The cinema has two screens, Screen 1 is located in the original stalls and Screen 2 in the original balcony.
During 2012, a full interior refurbishment was carried out. This included the complete refurbishment of the foyer and all front of house areas. Later, work in Screen 1 included a new suspended ceiling, and the replacement of the wall drapes.
Digital Projection and Sound was also added, with 3D capabilities in the large screen.