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A century of cinema
ImageEvery year, thousands of us have a great time at the Rio Cinema: maybe it's at the children's Saturday Morning Club, or at the Classic Matinees (with free tea and cake) or perhaps we just fancy popping out to the movies ...

Lots of older people remember going to westerns and weepies, comedies and cartoons at the Regent, or the Electric, the Ambassador or the ABC years ago.   There used to be cinemas all over Hackney, but nowadays the Rio is the only one left - and in 2009 it was busy celebrating its 100th birthday.

The story all started with Clara Ludski.   Like thousands of others, Clara and her husband Walter had fled their home in Russia when it was too dangerous for Jewish people like them to stay.   Over a century ago, in the time of King Edward VII, their family lived at 36 Sandringham Road - close to where Argos is now.   Walter was a cabinet maker, and Clara had her own business too: just a few minutes' walk from their house, Clara ran an auction room at 105 Kingsland High Street - in the exact same spot where the Rio cinema is today.

ImageAt the time that Clara came up with her amazing idea - that has meant fun for millions of film fans over the past hundred years - Hackney was a bit the same as now, and a bit different.   In Homerton and on Stoke Newington Common there were still cows grazing, but down in Dalston, inner-city life was going non-stop.   Clara's shop was right on a main road that had trams whizzing up and down.   Every day, crowds of people rushed through Dalston Junction railway station, to and from their jobs in the City of London.

Up the road were Marks and Spencer's penny bazaar and J. Sainsbury's provision dealer - and people were flocking to Dudley's new millinery show house just a few doors along from Clara's auction rooms.   She would soon be fifty years old - definitely time to change the dusty old auction for something a bit more modern.

Clara had spotted that "animated pictures" were going to be the next big thing, and she decided to open her very own picture house.   She picked an architect (who later became world famous for his cinemas) to turn her shop into an electrical picture house bang in the middle of Dalston.

In 1909 the Kingsland Palace opened its doors to show its first silent movies - and that was the start of a very long story.   It has changed its name and its look plenty of times, but for a whole century there has been a cinema at 105 Kingsland High Street. 

If you would like to know more about the history of the Rio, please click here to have a look at the Rio website - and find out what films are showing at the fabulous Rio cinema.
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