Within the Three Rivers area, only Rickmansworth has ever had a permanent cinema - in fact, not one but three.

The first was established in 1912 in the old Town Hall building [below left], the former entrance to which, in the High Street opposite the Post Office, is now marked by a sign. Silent films were shown here regularly until the opening in 1927 of Rickmansworth's first purpose-built cinema, The Picture House [below right], at the eastern end of the High Street close to the railway bridge.

The Picture House enjoyed a monopoly for nine years until 1936, when the expanding Odeon cinema chain opened one of its sumptuous art deco cinemas [below left, with interior views further down the page] on the southern side of the High Street immediately east of the junction with Church Street (next to Dickens the wine merchants).

Throughout the boom years of cinema, there was sufficient custom to allow both establishments to flourish (the Old Town Hall having stopped showing films when The Picture House opened), but they catered predominantly for the local population and, with the advent of television, they soon faced falling attendances and the prospect of closure.

The Odeon was an early casualty, closing its doors in 1957. Perhaps because its more elaborate style made it more difficult to adapt to other uses, the building was demolished in 1965, to be replaced by the uninspiring Union Carbide House. The only indication of its former presence is the name of the row of shops on the corner of Church Street - Odeon Parade.

The Picture House lived on for only a further six years, but the building has survived as offices. Behind the disguise of its rather colourful terracotta cladding and new doors, it is still possible to recognise the pattern of multiple entrances needed to cope with the sudden influx and departure of a cinema audience for a brief period each day.