Torbay Picture House

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Torbay Picture House
Torbay picture house.jpg
The Torbay Picture House in August 2007
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Torbay Picture House
Shown within Devon
Coordinates 50°26′6.720″N3°33′51.696″W / 50.43520000°N 3.56436000°W / 50.43520000; -3.56436000 Coordinates: 50°26′6.720″N3°33′51.696″W / 50.43520000°N 3.56436000°W / 50.43520000; -3.56436000
Opened16 March 1914
Closed26 September 1999

The Torbay Picture House is a currently disused cinema in Paignton, England, situated on Torbay Road.


It was opened on 16 March 1914, [1] and is believed to be the oldest surviving purpose-built cinema in Europe. In its early days it featured a 21-piece orchestra, with each member paid a guinea to perform. There are 375 seats: 271 in the stalls, 104 in the circle, plus three private boxes at the back seating an additional eight.


The cinema closed down on 26 September 1999 following the opening of a multiplex cinema at the other end of the same road. It was bought by the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway, which is adjacent, who had plans to turn it into a passenger waiting area. However, due to the building's Grade II listed building status, it is difficult to make any extensive changes and those plans were shelved.

The building in October 2018 Paignton Picture House Oct 2018.jpg
The building in October 2018

More recently, there has been talk of returning the Torbay Picture House to its former glory, as a living film museum featuring films from the very first days of silent cinema through to the 1950s. The experience would be further enhanced by staff wearing period costume. However, discussions with the railway company have some way to go before the future of this historic building is known.

The cinema was bought from the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway by The Paignton Picture House Trust with a grant of £40,000 from Historic England and funding from Torbay Council. A further £49,000 was obtained from the Coastal Revival Fund to make the building safe and open the building for tours. [2]

The Paignton Picture House Trust has been awarded a grant by Historic England of £206,680 towards the restoration, covering the full cost of essential repairs to the intricate stone work and unique stained glass windows and work is expected to begin in January 2021. [3]


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  1. "Paignton grand old lady of film is 100 years old". Herald Express . 16 March 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  2. "story so far picture house". Paignton. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. Henderson, Guy. "Work to start..." Devon Live. Retrieved 14 January 2021.