During the early 20th c, as the film craze spread, no doubt there were several small units showing films in buildings not solely used for the purpose. Perhaps the best known of these was The Kozy Kinema, situated in Grafton Street (now called Black Bear Lane). The building had been erected in 1886 on the site of the present Harley Davidson (2019) motorcycle showrooms, its original purpose being a steam laundry and swimming bath, for which admission to the latter was 6d. Some time later the swimming bath was converted to take a removable floor platform, allowing seating for 340 persons. A stage, gallery and dressing rooms were provided; and so The Kosy Kinema came into being. The building was sold in 1913 at which time the cinema was a going concern. It is not known at present when the Kozy Kinema gave its last performance.|
In September 1907 a great tragedy occurred in Newmarket Town Hall (the building on Rutland Hill now Wild Woods restaurant) which was in use as a temporary bioscope (cinema). The hall was overcrowded and the projector, which used incandescent limestone as the illuminating medium, was knocked over resulting in a fire. Panic ensued and there were many casualties. As a result of this fire and other similar tragedies the Cinematograph Act of 1909 was passed, which laid down safety standards.
The old Kingsway building is currently occupied by ARK Nightclub.
* The Doric is Grosvenor Apartments
Efforts are being made (2020) to establish a new cinema in town, but few details are yet known
Memories of The Kingsway and The Doric Cinemas (extract from Rodney Vincent's book about village life in the thirties and forties "A Tanner Will Do")
Rivalling the participant entertainment, 'the flicks' were at the height of their popularity. In Newmarket during the late thirties two cinemas flourished - the Kingsway and The Doric. Both buildings still in the High Street near the corner of The Avenue.
On 1st March 1937 a new and up to date cinema, The Doric, opened with Will Hay in ‘Good Morning Boys’. With pleasantly rounded façade and fluted columns the Doric even had a café upstairs where patrons could meet before the show, for tea. As this extravagance added some two shillings each to the cost it remained a luxury for the minority. At the Kingsway special sixpenny shows on Saturday mornings brought in the kids to see Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy or George Formby.
Cinemas had a plush atmosphere exuding an air of opulence and an evening out became a real social occasion. A world of romance and excitement opened up as the torch-waving usherette showed the patrons to their well upholstered seats (ninepence or a shilling downstairs, one and six or two and thruppence in the balcony) to become engrossed in the latest epic from Hollywood. For a couple of hours the villagers were transported from their simple lives. The young man's arm crept around his girl's shoulders as she assumed some of the glamour of the current screen goddesses - Alice Faye, Carole Lombard or Dorothy Lamour . . . .
During the war years the cinemas became even more popular and long queues formed for the evening shows, with uniforms well in evidence. Wartime morale-boosting films like ‘Target for Tonight’, ‘One of our Aircraft is Missing’, ‘Mrs Miniver’ or ‘In Which we Serve’ were sell-outs. For the first half of the show a crowd stood at the back of the auditorium while awaiting seats while the projector beam cut through the smoke haze of scores of cigarettes. During the interval the usherettes came round with Eldorado ices but as the war progressed ice-cream disappeared. Instead the audience was treated to ‘Dig for Victory’, ‘Buy War Bonds’ and similar patriotic messages flashed on the screen. Finally the curtains drew and a solemn playing of ‘God save the King’ had everyone standing to attention except for the few who had made their escape at the back. The audience streamed out into the darkness and rain of the real world - it usually seemed to be raining when I came out of the cinema. Those of us from the village found their dripping bikes, peeled apart their sticky oilskin capes and tackled the long and exhausting bike ride home, the last bus having long since gone.
....from John Marshall, a stable lad in Newmarket 1945 - 1950. (Correspondence September 2008)
I was interested to hear the picture houses are now night clubs. I well remember the Doric and the Kingsway. We lads used to sneak in via the emergency exit. We were so poorly paid that it was the only way sometimes to see the latest film. One Saturday night I had sneaked in when the usherette asked me to show my ticket . For some very strange reason I said "you fetch the manager and I will not only show you my ticket but demand an apology." This from an undersized 14 year old. I sat back very pleased with myself. Just a few minutes later the manager and the the doorman, an ex-sergeant came from behind, lifted my under 5 stone body and threw me out of the place and banned me for 4 weeks - from both the Doric and the Kingsway. However we saw some good films at both places and I have fond memories of both.