In a damp Allied trench during World War One, with rats scurrying around his boots and mortar shells exploding overhead, an army officer from Nottingham told his colonel about a piece of unused land in a prime spot, slap-bang in the centre of his hometown. Perhaps to draw their minds away from their likely demise, the two nervously chatted about the commercial potential of such a site and made optimistic plans about it that relied heavily on both of them surviving their present, hopeless malaise.
Miraculously, the duo - unlike so many of their comrades - did survive the war, and when they returned to Blighty, Mr J A Lomax and Lieutenant-Colonel James E Adamson formed a business and bought the land. On Monday 22nd August 1921 the old war buddies opened The Elite, a sumptuous and elegant restaurant and cinema complex that was unheard of in Nottingham in those days. As well as cinema screens, the four-storey Elite also housed furnished writing rooms, lounges and restaurants large enough to accommodate dancing. The city's population would get dressed-up to the nines and queue round the block to experience an opulent evening out.
The white building that housed the complex is still there, bordered by Parliament Street, King Street and Queen Street, and decorated with rather melancholy statues of St George and Shakespeare among others representing the arts and music. The site closed as a cinema in April 1977 and the building is now divided into smaller units housing the Gatecrasher club, the Soulville Steakhouse and Powerhouse fitness equipment shop. Gaze at the building as you wait for your bus and you'll find it's not at all difficult to imagine the Elite's glory days as Nottingham's biggest, most lavish cinema.