Vint's Electric Palace

A company was formed to purchase John Strange’s old grocers shop on the Market Square. Funds for the purchase were raised locally in £5 shares. It was built in 1853, designed by architect Edmund Francis Law of Northampton, and contracted to William Henson and J Wilson. The total project cost was £3000.

Opened in 1854, the downstairs was used for buying corn, whilst the upper room became the Town Hall, and later Kettering Library. It also served as a chapel whilst the Parish church was being restored 1887-1892, during Canon Henry Lindsay’s extensive building program. The building served as a Law Court for Petty Sessions until the new extension to the Police station opened on London Road in 1909. It was also used as a meeting room, and hosted a Stereoscope show in 1903; its future as a venue for cinema was born.

After the new Corn Exchange was built at the cattle market on London Road, and the new Carnegie library opened in 1904, the building was hired out. The large room on the first floor was used for meetings, exhibitions, balls, lectures and concerts.

Leon Vint acquired the rights to the Corn Exchange and replaced it with ‘Vint’s Electric Palace’ cinema which opened on 16th October 1909. It also hosted live stage performances and proved to be extremely popular. The plaque awarded by The British Film Institute in 1996 recognizes this phase.

In 1912 a local tradesman and coal merchant, John Covington bought the ownership rights and renamed it ‘The Palace Theatre’, screening movies and presenting occasional stage performances. Notable artists Harry Tate and Lily Langtry appeared there. It closed in June 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. After refurbishment, it reopened in August of the same year.

Frank Hawkins bought the ‘Palace’ in November 1917 and renamed it the ‘Hippodrome Cinema’. The right hand gable wall still bears the signage from the old Hippodrome days, including the admission charges. Frank went bankrupt in 1922 and the Hippodrome closed permanently as a cinema in 1923.

In 1926 the building was purchased by Kettering Urban Council and used as a covered market. Subsequently it has been used as a billiard hall, an auction room, café, shopping arcade, gymnasium, betting shop, and most recently, since 2014, a Lounge Café and Restaurant: the Kino Lounge.

Researched by Bernadette Millar

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