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Bobby Crompton Cinema Court Case



Three days were devoted in the Chancery Court at Manchester to the hearing by Vice. Chancellor R. Lawrence, K.C., of an action arising out of leasing of a picture hall at Blackburn. The plaintiffs were the Exchange (Blackburn) Ltd., and the defendant, Robert Crompton, the famous football international, with whom was joined a company known as the Exchange Picture Hall Co., Ltd., Blackburn.

The plaintiffs sought to obtain a declaration that the defendant’s tenancy of the hall expired in November next, an order to deliver up the premises, and an injunction to restrain the defendants from making contracts for the booking of films for exhibition after November, 1920, when, it was alleged, the tenancy terminated. For the plaintiffs (for whom Mr. Hughes, K.C. and Mr. Frith appeared) it was submitted that the agreement made between Mr. Crompton and a former owner of the premises for the use of the hall as a picture palace expired in November next, and the new landlords desired to have possession.

The defence, on the question of tenancy, was that an agreement had been entered into which gave the defendants right of possession until 1923, and in pursuance of that – they had spent considerable sums of money in making improvements. In the box the defendant Crompton said in November, 1916, an agreement for a seven years lease was entered into with the late A. Nuttall, the owner of the property.
The rent was fixed at £5OO a year. Witness bought out the old company for £1,200, and took over the ‘business. Nothing was said to him about the lease to the old company. Alterations were made with a view to the improvement of the hall to the extent of £2,283, and Mr. Nuttall’s permission was obtained before these structural alterations were made. Cross-examined by Mr. Hughes, the witness pointed out that Mr. Lucas did speak to him as to the risk he was taking in spending money on the property.

Witness’s grievance was that the property was sold without offering it to him. He understood that the property was wanted by the Blackburn Corporation for public improvements, but they would not desire to alter it for four or five years. If he remained in he would get his return out of it for the money he had spent. In the end the Vice-Chancellor reserved his judgment.