Electric Cinema, Fossgate

York’s first purpose built cinema, the Electric Theatre (today MacDonald’s furniture store) opened in 1911 and closed in 1951. It was commonly known as the Laugh and Scratch. There are surviving oral history accounts mentioning walking on the snap crackle and pop of peanut shells, the playing of piano for horse scenes and a violin for sob stories, and of people given items in kind like jam jars instead of payment to get in.


Van Wilson, Rich in all but Money: Life in Hungate 1900-1936.