“ Address: 222 Kettering Rd / Northampton NN1 4BN / Vereinigtes Königreich „
The Picturedrome sounds more romantic than it is. It was indeed Northampton's first purpose built cinema in 1912 and after it was derelict for a decade or two it was reopened as a trendy venue bar with a cinema screen and stage in the 1990s. It shows arty and new movies for free early in the week (Monday night is movie night!) and has jazz bands, comedians, poets and plays on the stage through the week, the pay a fiver on the door bands at the weekends to bring the crowds in. The bands are mostly tribute bands for certain decades and you tend not to have a rock night here, A DJ straight after.. It also does salsa evenings and quiz nights, celebrity chat nights and very much a community pub. Frank Bruno did a night and so did a rather famous author. They even do a tea dance with rock and roll music but young people took over it from the local art college and so the old girls stopped coming.
Because of its suburban location no more than a mile from the town centre it does close at midnight and the clientele are more mature and local. 25-55 is about the norm. But don't let that put you off as it's a good mix of young and older. Its stands next to the town's vast open space called the Racecourse and a bit on its own as far as pub crawls go. The Kettering Road approach to the town has few pubs on it compared to the Wellingboro Road drag so not a pub for you and your crew if you are doing six or seven on Saturday night. The Picturedrome crowd tend to stay in their all night and so if you don't score a set in the bar area early on you could be standing all night.
The French Windows open up on the street in the summer and a nice place to have a breakfast or lunch to watch the world go by if you live in the area, although mostly bums drinking cider by the pay phones across the road or kids on bikes scoring weed and worse. It looks nice from the outside though and retro cool on the inside with a café bar area as you walk in the tall and grand doors. There are some tables and bar stools and then a separate bigger area down some stairs where the screen and stage are. When there are no bands on at the weekends it has a Bier Keller feel with lines of benches and tables to chat and drink on, lots of students from the art college across the Racecourse popping in for last orders after house parties and cider on the on the park. Its nota middle-class venue but its nota working-class venue either. It's just refreshingly eclectic for Northampton. They have recently found a way to open a terrace for smokers and so a nice chill area from the summer heat. It can get hot and sticky in this place though band so a good addition. The smoking ban killed far more pubs than it did people.
It's not a drinking pub as such and you do feel the clientele rather like their trendy unique local and good for a beer with friends. Its one of those big pubs you can settle in for the night with workmates or friends if you are a bit bushed. The prices are top end but we all pay £15 a round away from London now anyway so nothing you can do about it. The Staff are friendly and the bar is big and easy to get served at. They do food in the daytime at reasonable prices and a discount with vouchers. They do buffets for the comedy nights and private hire events and a Sunday menu too. We now know most pubs have to serve food at a big mark up to survive because of the smoking ban and that has made pubs nice places to be at night.
On the whole if you want to go to somewhere different and relaxed in the week or watch a live band and have a boogie at the weekends and you don't want to taxi into Northampton town centre then you will enjoy this place. It's more for the 25 plus crowd with retro bands and entertainment but never any trouble and a good atmosphere at weekends with pretty people to admire. The only negative is when you do have to pay to go down the stairs to the stage area to see the live band the café bar area can be a bit cramped for those who don't pay and you have no access to the smoking area on the roof, meaning people stand outside the pub on the road puffing away. It also has one of the best ever pub websites.
Next Monday you can watch the film The Punch for free at night or take the kids in for the school holiday summer films afternoon. The following Monday its Dark Skies...