The Ultimate Picture Palace

Oxford | | 10/04/2017

Amazing art déco volunteer-run cinema on the Cowley Road.

If your criteria for defining a ‘good cinema’ include affordable ticket prices, a varied mix of independent films and an intimate and cosy feel in each screening, then the Oxford’s oldest and only independent cinema, The Ultimate Picture Palace, is probably for you.

Located in the heart of Oxford’s student epicentre on the Cowley Road, the cinema is a favourite of most discerning local film-buffs. The beautiful art deco interior provides an atmospheric setting for screenings and the bar at the back of the auditorium serves drinks and snacks that can be taken to your seat. Another plus is the fact that the UPP doesn’t show adverts, only a couple of short trailers for upcoming features before the film begins. Perfect for those who, like me, hate sitting through half an hour of ads.

First opened in 1911, The Oxford Picture Palace, as it was first known, was forced to close in 1917 when the manager was called up for war service. The building lay abandoned for many years before being taken over as a furniture warehouse. In 1976 the cinema reopened as the Penultimate Picture Palace, but closed again in 1994. The building was used briefly as a squat and run as a free cinema by the Oxford Freedom Network. In 1997 the cinema was opened once again as the Ultimate Picture Palace.

For those wanting to know a bit more about the rocky past of the UPP, check out the documentary made in 2011 by local filmmaker Philip Hind (

Cowley Rd, Oxford OX4 1BN

01865 245288


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