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  • The new Art Deco style Savoy Cinema was opened at 42 Belgrave Gate on 4 June 1937
  • The ‘futuristic’ cinema was the largest in Leicester with 2,414 seats
  • Films were not shown on Sundays until after World War II, to help boost morale

A New Cinema on Belgrave Gate

The new Art Deco style Savoy Cinema was opened at 42 Belgrave Gate on 4 June 1937. Part of the Associated British Cinemas (ABC) group, it was the largest cinema in Leicester, with 2,414 seats. The “futuristic” interior had chrome, concealed lighting, an illuminated arch over the screen and the latest “high fidelity” sound. As well as a cinema screen the Savoy had a Compton music organ and a small stage for variety shows.

Off-Screen Drama

Big audiences meant a big income. During the 1940s two attempts were made to steal the box office takings. In 1952 the cinema’s safe was broken into and £900 was stolen. Films were not shown on Sundays, but during World War II this was changed, in part to boost morale. In 1947 after seeking local opinions, Leicester cinemas stayed open on Sundays.

Savoy Cinema in 1953, decorated for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

The Post-War Years

After the War there were many developments. The 1950s brought Saturday morning screenings for children, a new widescreen and in 1959, a new projector for 70mm films. The 1960s saw the inclusion of a coffee shop and a change of name to the ABC. In the 1970s the ABC was split into two, and then three, smaller screens. In 2007 the building was demolished and in 2020, the area where the cinema stood, was named Savoy Street.

Final films shown at the cinema


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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