These atmospheric pictures are more than 80 years old and capture the splendour of four Watford cinemas at night during a period recognised as the golden age of Hollywood.

Taken before the outbreak of the Second World War around 1936, these images kindly supplied by our friends at Watford Museum show The Carlton in Clarendon Road, The Plaza reflecting off the Pond, The New Regal in King Street, and The Empire in Merton Road.

Located next to the Palace Theatre, The Carlton opened in February 1921 after the conversion of a former roller skating rink.

Watford Observer: The Carlton next to the Palace TheatreThe Carlton next to the Palace Theatre (Image: Watford Museum)

It was responsible for some movie ‘firsts’ in Watford – it was the first cinema with sound films and the first to show 3-D movies – and was to remain open until July 1980.

Watford Observer: H. G. Wells' Things To Come was showing at The PlazaH. G. Wells' Things To Come was showing at The Plaza (Image: Watford Museum)

The Plaza was also responsible for a cinematic first in the town. It opened in April 1929 and just over two months later showed the first full-length talkie in Watford, Al Jolson’s The Singing Fool.

Watford Observer: The Plaza reflecting off the PondThe Plaza reflecting off the Pond (Image: Watford Museum)

These pictures were taken shortly before it became the Odeon, the cinema remaining open until November 1963.

The New Regal began its life as The Central Hall in December 1913, one of three cinemas to be opened in Watford in the space of 15 months.

Watford Observer: A lone bicycle stands outside The New RegalA lone bicycle stands outside The New Regal (Image: Watford Museum)

It was renamed The Regal in 1929 after changing hands, then The New Regal following renovations before becoming the Essoldo in the 1950s following another change of ownership.

It ceased showing films in the late 1960s, became a bingo hall and was then converted into flats named Essoldo Court.

Watford Observer: The impressive exterior of The EmpireThe impressive exterior of The Empire (Image: Watford Museum)

The Empire was the oldest of the four cinemas, opening in November 1913, and the Merton Road venue was to outlast the other three, keeping cinema goers entertained for around 80 years until it closed in the mid-1990s.