Paignton Picture House
Paignton Picture House Gallery

Who worked at the cinema over the years?

Picture house projectionists - Probably taken in the 1960s. Photo taken from faded newspaper article - hence the quality.

Left to right - Derek Waddle - chief projectionist | John Mann - 2nd projectionist | Arthur Tomlins - 3rd projectionist | David Friend - 4th projectionist (not in photo)

John Mann's wife Sandra worked at the Picture House, in the ticket office, between 1955 and 1960, where she met John, and they got married in 1960.

She recalled names of fellow employees who worked as usherettes. Amongst them, Edner Handly, Doreen Townell, Irene Stevens, Roselin Russell and Angela Russell.

Sandra told me that her mother Dolly Binmore had also worked in the ticket office of the cinema before progressing to become the manager for a number of years.

I am trying to create a list of all the people who worked at the cinema over the years, with the dates they were there and the roles they played. Can you help? If you can, please email me at

John Mann. 19th March 1937 to 29th January 2020

It is with sadness that we report the death of John Mann, manager of the Picture House, when it closed its curtains for the last time on the 26th September 1999. John started working at the cinema in the 1950's and worked his way up from 4th projectionist to chief projectionist and finally manager in the cinema's later years. John wrote a book about the Picture House and other cinemas in the area that he was connected with over the years. It is hoped the money can be raised to get it into print in the foreseeable future.

BBC - World War One at Home

A fascinating audio documentary about the early days of Paignton Picture House from the BBC.

Listen Here:

Paignton Picture House Trust

A new trust has been set up with the aim to restore and open Paignton Picture House for business once again.

Visit the Facebook page for more info:

Meeting about the Old Cinema

Friday 24th February 2012 at 7pm

All are welcome to this special meeting about the Paignton Picture House (formally known as Torbay cinema). As some of you know the cinema has been closed since 1999, but recent plans by the National Trust will bring new life into this historic building. Anyone with an interest in the cinema, its past, and more importantly its future, are most welcome. Along with members of our group, the National Trust will be on hand to talk about their plans and answer any questions you may have.

Epicentre, 59 Torquay Road, Paignton, TQ3 3DT

click here to download a flyer about the meeting

Scenes from 'Ordeal by Innocence' (1984) shot at the Paignton Picture House

The photos below have been taken from an actual 16mm projection of a feature film of the Agatha Christie book Ordeal by Innocence.

Ordeal by Innocence was filmed in 1984 in south Devon and was set mainly in and around Dartmouth. A couple of scenes were filmed in Paignton, one of which was at the Paignton Picture House.

The first photos show the first floor foyer area with the stained glass window that can also be seen from the road, situated above the main entrance. The following photos are of two of the stars - Donald Sutherland and Cassie Stuart on the balcony with some of the cinemas architecture in the background. Donald Sutherland is sitting very close to where Agatha Christie sat to watch a film when she visited the cinema.

Even though this film includes a great and well known cast of American and English actors and actresses, including Donald Sutherland, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Plummer, Sarah Miles, Ian McShane, Annette Crosbie, Michael Elphick, and Phoebe Nicholls, it was rather let down by some mis-casting and an obtrusive jazz score by Dave Brubeck, which seems to belong to another film.

16mm was of a good enough quality to be blown up to a reasonable size by a film projector onto a screen in a school or church hall, and a feature film could be hired for a reasonable cost by schools and film societies.

The medium used extensively by television studios across the world for general use was 16mm film because although 35mm film was higher quality, it was expensive and the standard would be wasted on the size and definition of television screens in the home in those days. 35mm film was therefore mainly saved for cinema.

Save Paignton Picture House

A new video highlighting a project lead by Devon Historic Buildings Trust and the National Trust (and other local stakeholders) to save Paignton Picture House.

The cinema in the 1990's and its final night

Ben Wales has sent in these photo's which he took in the 1990's when the cinema was up and running. The last three were taken on it's final night when the film 'The smallest show on earth' was shown. Click on the images for larger versions.

Ben has a great enthusiasm for the cinema. His interest in the Picture House started while on holiday in Paignton in the 1980's, where he met John Mann - who was, at that time, chief projectionest for the cinema.

Ben has installed and run cinema equipment over the years and has his own collection of cameras, films and projectors from cinema days of old including 70mm machines - some of which can been seen on the web site

Areas not normally seen by the general public

The following photos were taken by Stuart Saunders in 2008. They show areas, not normally seen by the general public, of the basement area, offices, projection and film rewind room.

Rewind Room
Projection Room

The Paignton Picture House; Fly Through

In this 3D model of The Paignton Picture House (Formally Torbay Cinema) you can see what the proposed plans are while photos show its current configuration.

This video was originally designed to run on screens as part of a background display at a fund raiser, but due to a change in circumstances the event didn't happen.

However here it is now for you enjoyment, and will hopefully be used soon.

Paignton Picture House