Ultimate Picture Palace

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The Ultimate Picture Palace is a historic grade II listed cinema situated in Jeune Street off the Cowley Road in east Oxford, England.[1] When first opened in 1911, it was Oxford's first purpose built cinema.[2]


The Oxford Picture Palace, as it was first known, was founded by Frank Stuart, licensee of the Elm Tree Tavern on the corner of Cowley Road and Jeune Street. Frank Stuart's Electric Theatre on Castle Street can lay claim to being Oxford's first cinema having opened some three months earlier.[3]

The Jeune Street cinema opened on 24 February 1911 and closed in 1917 when the manager was called up for war service. The building lay abandoned for many years before being taken over as a furniture warehouse.

In 1976, the cinema reopened as the Penultimate Picture Palace under the management of Bill Heine[4] and Pablo Butcher.[citation needed] A sculpture of Al Jolson's hands by John Buckley was added to the façade.[3] The first film to be shown was Winstanley. Under the new management the cinema gained a reputation for showing an eclectic and provocative range of films that set the cinema apart from the mainstream theatres of the time.

When the Penultimate Picture Palace was forced to close in 1994, the future for the building looked bleak.[1]

For a month in the summer of 1994, it was squatted and run as a free cinema by the Oxford Freedom Network before being acquired by Saied Marham and his brother Zaid who spent £40,000 restoring the classical facade.[5] They reopened as the Ultimate Picture Palace in 1997. The cinema changed hands again in 2009.[1]

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Ultimate Picture Palace". Oxford, UK: Daily Info. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "The untold story of a legendary cinema". UK. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Hibbert, Christopher, ed. (1988). "Cinemas". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford. Macmillan. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-333-39917-X. 
  4. ^ Heine, Bill (2011). The Hunting of the Shark. Oxford: Oxfordfolio. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-9567405-2-6. 
  5. ^ Wollenberg, Anne (15 November 2011). "Cine-files: Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 

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Coordinates: 51°44′56″N 1°14′22″W / 51.748778°N 1.23935°W / 51.748778; -1.23935