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The King's Hall


Now the Gala Bingo Hall, the King's Hall in Biggin Street was Dover's first, purpose-built, cinema.  Described in its newspaper adverts as "Dover's Palatial Picture Playhouse," the proprietors, The Dover Picture Palace Co. Ltd., claimed the £8000 cinema, opened on 29th October 1911, was the most luxurious picture palace within a 75 miles radius.

It originally had seating for over 800 patrons - 100 in the lounge, (1/-)  400 in the stalls (6d.) and a further 300 in the balcony (3d.), with children at 6d., 3d & 2d.  "Seats booked in advance to Lounge and Stalls, extra charge 3d."

The front view of the cinema belies the size of the auditorium, the rear of which can be seen in the view (below) from Queen's Gardens.  The interior was 100 feet long, 60 feet wide and 30 feet high, with no supporting pillars to obstruct the view.

(Map courtesy of Dover Public Library)

The map, taken from part of one of a series of Insurance Maps, first produced in 1905 and updated in the 1920s, shows the Theatre (built on part of the builder's yard some time after 1905) with a "temporary cinema" in the foyer area.


As well as a "Splendid programme of up-to-date pictures," the King's Hall boasted "The best of high-class music by the renowned 'King's Hall Orchestra'."

There were two performances each evening at 6.30 and 8.45, with special matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.45. 

"Convenient trains to Dover from Central Station, 2.8, 2.52, 6.0, 6.24, 7.38, 8.21.  From Dover Harbour, 6.30, 8.27, 9.50, 10.27, 11.4."

The King's Hall also boasted the town's first cinema organ.  The foyer included a tea room where patrons could take refreshment.

After 1914, films once more became the main attraction, although live performances still took place regularly on the 36 foot deep stage with a proscenium width of 32 feet.

During the first World War, many concerts were held here, as these extracts from the Dover Express & East Kent News of 1916 illustrate:

King’s Hall, Dover

Monday, May 1st, and during the Week


Lce. Cpl. BEER, R.E.  Entertainer at the Piano



April 28th 1916



For next week the management of the King’s Hall have booked Miss Winnie Winneford, soprano vocalist, and Lance-Corporal Beer, R.E., entertainer at the piano, as the variety turns.”



The first sound films were screened in April 1931, soon after which the seating capacity was increased to 1050.  on 29th December 1937 a fire totally destroyed the premises which were not re-built until 1940.

Later re-named Gaumont, the cinema survived into the 1960s before being converted into a bingo hall.

In 1969 it was the Top Rank Bingo & Social Club.