As members of Stourport Civic Society know, I have long been intrigued by the idea that Stourport may be one of those towns to claim an early cinema. Most cinemas started life after 1st January 1910 when the Kinematograph Act came into force, but a few towns did have purpose-built or "purpose-converted" premises for regularly showing films before that date. Several historians claim that films were regularly shown in Stourport from 1908 onwards. Renault Beakbane supported this by saying that his grandfather had shown films since that date in the buildings that formed part of the family's tannery. More recently Audrey Cooper provided some family-based evidence that films were being shown in Stourport in 1908.
I have now had a brief opportunity to look through past copies of the Kidderminster Shuttle to see if any evidence can be found. I did not find any mention of cinematograph shows in Stourport in the 1908 papers. The Electric Theatre in Lickhill Road first advertises in 22nd February 1913. A news item in the edition published on 1st February 1913 says 'Picture House: The new electric picture house is expected to be ready for use in the second week of February. High class films are to be procured and every comfort seems to be the aim of the promoters.'
I would suggest that the first films were shown on Monday 10th February 1913 as the advert of the following week says nothing about the cinema opening. There seems to be no news coverage of the first night or any description of the building and its promoters - which is very disappointing! From March 1913 onwards the Stourport Electric Theatre advertises fairly regularly and we learn that shows were presented twice nightly and at a Saturday afternoon matinee. Prices for adults were 3d and 6d children were admited for 2d. The first manager to be identified in the adverts was Mr. Priestley Don.
Four venues had been showing films in Kidderminster since 1912, so on this basis Stourport had no special claim to fame - but - of course there may still be some substance to the stories of these film presentations in 1908. Perhaps someone in Stourport can tell us more.