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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Cinematograph

Alhambra & Marlborough Theatres

What is Grand Cinematograph and where was it located?

Grand Cinematograph was the first cinema at Beach Road. Its opening day was on 31 August 1907 with 2 shows daily at 7.30 pm and at 9.30 pm. At that time a cinema was known as a cinematograph. The Japanese Cinematograph was next to be opened at Beach Road and at nearby North Bridge Road the Harima Cinematograph. At the initial stage, the movie shown at the Grand Cinematograph was unsteady and flickering. When the problems were rectified, it proudly advesrtised

Free from Flicker
Absolutely Rock Steady

In 1939, it was the first cinema in Singapore to have air conditioning and patrons watched the show in the luxury of air cooled comfort. Later other cinemas in town had air conditioning installed but not those cinemas in the suburbs which still used ceiling fans for ventilation. I remembered in the second half of 1940s, while enjoying a movie at the Roxy Theatre, the pictures on the cinema screen suddenly went blank. The people in the cinema hall made all sorts of noise and cats' call to show their unhappiness. Soon after the hall was lighted up. In those days, it was common occurences in cinemas. One reason could be due to poor joining of the jointed films. Another reason was due to a frame of the film melted by of the intense heat of the projector light bulb. Fortunately, it did not take long for the show to go on. As an adult I had been playing with a movie camera using 8 mm films and a projector to show the movie. I experienced the same problems as the projectionist in the projector room.

Name changed from Grand Cinematograph to Alhambra

12 October 1907 The Grand Cinematograh changed to
Alhambra Grand Cinematograph

A week later the word Grand was ommited. It was then known as Alhambra Cinematograph

1 November 1907 The Alhambra completely replaced Grand Cinematograph

The Straits Times 14 January 1951

"Face lift for Singapore cinema" and reported "Good news for movie goers in Singapore:
The Old Alhambra, Singapore's oldest theatre is going to have its face lifted. The Alhambra's name when it reopens on Feb 5 will be the New Alhambra and ......................................."
(newspapers' cutting below)

In November 1969, the New Alhambra building was demolished to make way for the present Shaw Tower Beach Road Cineplex.

Singapore's first cinema

Grand Cinematograph

The Straits Times 14 January 1951

The New Alhambra
Picture from National archive


yg said...

mr chew, grand cinema or grand cinematograph? they are not the same?

PChew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PChew said...

Yes, they are the same. Cinematograph is an old term for cinema in 1907.

fuzzoo said...

My father happened to mention this cinema to me yesterday! It was near his home (late 1940s to early 1950s) which was along North Bridge Road where Golden Landmark Hotel now stands. According to him, next to the Alhambra was a cinema screening Chinese movies but he doesn't remember the name of the cinema.

PChew said...

The cinema next to Alhambra was the Malburough Theatre.

Lam Chun See said...

Now that you mention it, I remember the films breaking mid-way through the movie. I think I saw one war movie here before, but I was too young to remember the details.