Most of those who look at this postcard will probably initially notice the attractive old cars – but the particular feature of interest is the building in the background on the right.
This is the Rivoli cinema, which – although it was one of Worthing’s best-loved cinemas for over 35 years – rarely appears on old postcards.
The cinema, which opened in 1924, was situated on the north-east corner of the junction of North Street and Chapel Road – roughly where Rivoli Court now stands – and was part of the entertainment empire of the great Worthing entrepreneur Carl Adolph Seebold (1873-1951).
By the end of the 1920s Seebold owned three cinemas in Worthing, the others being the Dome and the Picturedrome (today the Connaught Theatre).
He had earlier also owned the New Theatre Royal in Bath Place, but he sold this in 1922, presumably because he judged that cinema was the future of entertainment.
Although he is generally referred to today as “Carl Seebold”, an attractive 1906 programme for the Theatre Royal that was recently sold on eBay includes the rubric “under the management of Herr C. Adolph Seebold” – so he must have been using the name Adolph in the early years of the century.
This was 30 years or so before the appearance of “Herr” and “Adolph” (or Adolf) in close proximity to each other began to be problematical to Britons.
According to ‘Cinema West Sussex’, by Allen Eyles, Frank Gray and Alan Readman, the Rivoli seated just under 1,700, and was therefore the second-largest cinema ever to serve Worthing.
The largest was the Plaza in Rowlands Road (today Gala Bingo), which opened in 1933 and had a capacity of just over 2,000.
The Rivoli had a pipe organ, and, until the silent film era came to an end, there was also an eleven-piece orchestra which accompanied films in the evening.
It had a sliding roof that could be opened on fine evenings to admit fresh air. This would have been welcome to non-smokers in an era when cinemas were often a fug of cigarette smoke.
The Rivoli was destroyed by fire in January 1960, but the frontage and the foyer survived until 1984. However the ball at the top was removed in 1965 when the foyer was converted into sales and auction rooms for Fox & Sons.
The current Town Hall opened in May 1933, and the fact that the caption on the front of this postcard refers to the building as the “new” Town Hall – together with the vintage of the cars – suggests that the photograph was taken either in 1933 or a year or two later.
• Antony Edmonds’s book ‘Worthing: The Postcard Collection’ (RRP £14.99) is on sale at the offices of the Herald & Gazette in Chatsworth Road, Worthing at the special price of £11.50.
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