Marlborough Cinema

Marlborough Cinema was a single-screen cinema hall located on Beach Road in Singapore. It was in operation from 1909, before the building was demolished in the early 1970s.[1] to make way for the construction of Shaw Tower.

Marlborough Cinema
1920s photo of Marlborough Cinema and the next-door Alhambra Cinema.jpg
General information
TypeMovie theater
LocationBeach Road, Singapore
Owner1909–1938: Tan Cheng Kee (former)
1938–late 1960s: Shaw Brothers
Other information
Seating capacity682


Records showed that Marlborough Cinema, owned by Peranakan businessman Tan Cheng Kee,[2] was in operation by January 1909.[3] Before the establishment of Marlborough Cinema, another cinema, French Cinema, was set up as a tent on its site in 1906.[4]

The advent of “talkies”, or sound films, led the cinema hall to undergo extensive interior and exterior renovations in 1930.[5] On 1 May 1933, Marlborough Cinema came under the management of Amalgamated Theatres Limited.[6]

The first “all-Malay talkie” film, Leila Majnun, premiered at the Marlborough on 27 March 1934.[7]

Ownership under ShawEdit

In 1938, the lease for Marlborough Cinema under Tan Cheng Kee ran out,[8] and thus the cinema changed hands to the Shaw Brothers.[9] During this period of time, Marlborough Cinema showed mainly Chinese films, interspersed with the occasional Tamil film.


The cinema hall closed down in the late 1960s, before it was demolished in the early 1970s[10] in order to build Shaw Tower.


Marlborough Cinema was built on Beach Road, on a site known as the Raffles Reclamation Ground, which was created from past reclamation projects in the 1840s and 1890s[11]

Plans and sections of Marlborough Cinema dated 1909, showing a simple gabled structure that was internally lined with wooden benches.

Building plans dated 1909 showed that Marlborough Cinema was a structure of simple construction: a large, corrugated zinc hall with a gabled roof. It was situated on a narrow, elongated plot of land. Wooden benches lined its interior, and were separated by aisles.

From oral interviews, a recessed orchestral pit was presumed to have taken up space in front of the screen between 1909 and 1930, to house musicians who would play accompanying music to silent films.

The topmost photo, dating to the 1920s, shows a flat-arch entrance way, with marquees displaying posters of movies currently showing at the cinema.

Renovations carried out in 1930 wired the cinema hall for sound, and electric fans were also installed. The wooden benches were replaced by flip-up chairs, expanding the seating from 550 to 682,[2] and presumably filling up the orchestral pit.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Marlborough Theatre at Beach Road". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  2. ^ a b "MARLBOROUGH THEATRE". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  3. ^ "THE CINEMATOGRAPH IN THE EAST". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  4. ^ "THIRTY YEARS OF FILM ENTERTAINMENT". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  5. ^ "Topics Of To-day". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  6. ^ "SINGAPORE CINEMA MERGER". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  7. ^ "LEILA MAJNUN". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  8. ^ "About Shaw". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  9. ^ "A picture taken of the staffs of the Alhambra, Marlborough and Royal cinemas, Singapore, just before the Alhambra changed management. From now onwards it is being controlled by Shaw Brothers, who control 60 theatres in Malaya. During the summer months the cinema will be renovated, and air-conditioning will be installed". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  10. ^ "The Marlborough Theatre at Beach Road". Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  11. ^ "Land From Sand: Singapore's Reclamation Story". BiblioAsia. Retrieved 2019-03-06.