Bohemia Hall

Canvey's First Cinema

Another of Norman Chisman’s Slides

The Bohemia Hall was Canvey’s  first cinema the proprietor was Henry Pettit it was in the Small Gains area of the High Street.

In Kelly’s Directories for 1929 and 1933 the hall was called Bohemia Park Hall.

The ‘Urban District of Canvey Island 1926-1974 Official Guide’ the section for the early 30s says of the hall:-

  • For the more sophisticated there was Bohemia Hall which held various social activities and again the highlight of the week at this hall was the silent film show operated by Mr. Pettitt for which the admission was the princely sum of one penny. The piano accompaniment to the silent scenes on the screen, partic­ularly when there was an aeroplane crash or a horse chase made the events quite exciting.

Bill Gower in his memoirs also of the 30s writes:-

  • “ On Canvey the Bohemia Hall near Gains corner still opened week for ‘Pettits Popular Pictures’ for the kids, this being a flickering film on the screen showing Charlie Chaplin in custard pie fights and other such ancient films. This was in any case a comical affair when the elderly Mr Pettit would be at the back of the dark hall with his hand cranking the camera and directing the film over the childrens heads to the screen in front of them, sometimes the film would begin to wander off the screen to the extent that half of it was being shown on the screen and the other half on the ceiling, but the kids enjoyed it.”

As well as a social club the hall was used by the Home Guard and as a clothing factory before it was demolished for redevelopment.

Comments about this page

  • Henry/Harry Pettitt was the son of my husband’s great grand aunt so is was my husband’s “1st cousin 3 times removed”! Lovely to see the cinema he ran.

    My sister used to live in Benfleet decades ago, so we used to pop over to Canvey Island when I used to visit her back then.

    By Vanessa (10/05/2021)

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