ABC Blackpool

130-140 Church Street,
Blackpool, FY1 3PR

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terry
terry on March 16, 2013 at 12:02 am

I attended a few reunions in Bournemouth which were arranged by my friend and former colleague, Richard Roper.

Many people present were, as you aptly put it, Real ABC, although a number were there purely on the basis of having worked for the Company that simply bore the relaunched name.

Bob Parsons had moved to pastures new by the time I had anything to do with the North West but I knew Gordon Chadwick and Brian Wrathall very well at the A B C ( Gordon’s wife, Joan Chadwick was Bar Manager and had managed a number of A B C theatres including the Empire Stockton and Regal Bridlington) as well as Chuck Walker at the Princess.

Gordon Chadwick had managed the ABC Globe Stockton which was another important and large ABC live venue and, I am pleased to say, is currently undergoing restoration.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on March 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I remember the First Manager of the of the Facelift Theatre.. Bob Parsons the following one was Frank Chadwick. If my memory is correct..

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on March 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I did cover at the ABC Chester.. when it was moved to our Zone.. I was able to do a Full Theatre Advance Booking. So I got lumbered. Morcombe & Wise Show and an Orcestra Concert.. for the Chester festival.. We at least we worked for the Real ABC company :o)

terry
terry on March 15, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I see your point also; I did, however, say that the auditorium of the A B C bore no resemblance to that of the Hippodrome whilst I am aware that much of the shell of the original building was retained.

I am also ex A B C and managed the ABC’s South Shields, Chester, Newcastle upon Tyne (Haymarket and Westgate Road) and Darlington. The latter, like Blackpool, was a partial rebuild (of C J Phipps' Theatre Royal) and much of the old superstructure remained.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on March 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I can see you point.. But under normal practice on this site.. A LEGAL FACT.. ABC Theatre was not a NEW Theatre as such. The 4 Walls of the original theatre, where used in building of the Refurbed theatre.. This apart from cost.. Was a contrivance to legally get round the planning laws. Interior was gutted and old roof removed. New spans where installed on the Original Walls. Exterior got make over.. Internal. Had new steelwork and refit etc etc… One here a great number of theatres have had such a make over.. and not had seperate entires..
I am Ex ABC and knew members of the design team and even met Jack Foster) As I was interested in design. He explained what work was done..

terry
terry on March 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Please caption the photo ‘HIPPODROME BLACKPOOL’.

The 1963 A B C auditorium bore no resemblance to this at all. It would be even better if someone with extensive knowledge of the Hippodrome were to compose a separate article about the place and the photo were to be used in conjunction with same.

davidstirzaker
davidstirzaker on February 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm

As a little boy I lived in Fleetwood and was taken to the old Hippodrome to see David Whitfield.

terry
terry on January 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Firstly, I understand that the final name of a venue is the one used on this site.

M G M was the penultimate name as A B C was reintroduced latterly. It therefore closed with the name by which it was known in its glory days, namely the A B C, which was an extensive rebuild of the old Hippodrome, the auditorium of which is shown at the top of this page.

I never was in the Hippodrome but it would appear, by the photo, that when in use as a cinema, the screen was forward of the theatrical proscenium which is heavily masked by drapery. It seems that screen tabs were not used – unless, that is, they were either out of action or away being cleaned when this photo was taken.

Amazingly, whilst many photos of the Front Of House of the A B C Blackpool exist, few of the very impressive auditorium do; at least they are never made available if there are any. The only one I have seen is within the In House journal for the staff of Associated British Cinemas, A B C News, viz May 1963, when extensive coverage was given to the opening of ‘Europe’s Most Luxurious Theatre’ – as it was billed at that time.

During the lengthy period of the Hippodrome’s reconstruction, hoardings on Church Street advertised that the new theatre would present Number One Stage Shows, TV Shows,Pre- Release film runs and Cinerama presentations. Whilst the latter failed to materialise, the venue did indeed present the very best in Stage, TV and film entertainment until its conversion to a triple screen venue in 1981.

Many A B C Cinemas were converted using the ‘drop wall’ principle – IE the Circle and Front Stalls would be used for the main auditorium whilst 2 ‘minis’ would be constructed within the under hang (Rear Stalls).

As the 2 ‘minis’ at Blackpool did not utilise the Front Stalls, this method of conversion could have been adopted here but,sadly, this was not the case and the famous stage (with revolve) together with the sixty feet wide proscenium, fly tower, Front Stalls and dressing rooms were all sealed off.

The conversion, however, was still carried out in a manner whereby the alterations were reversible and the stage could once again be brought back into use should the fortunes of live shows ever improve (as I think can safely be said applies today). Unfortunately, the people who bought the A B C from ODEON for conversion to ‘The Syndicate’ Nightclub ripped out the entire interior of the building – and, in the process, any realistic hope of the building ever being restored to its former glory. This is very sad, I know, but I am afraid that the hue and cry now being made about the proposed demolition of the building should have taken place before the Night Club owners did their handy work.

Recently, BBC 2 transmitted a one hour documentary about the hey day of Blackpool’s Entertainment Industry, and, I am pleased to say, this included many clips of shows at the A B C Theatre :–

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RfZNQa2SpA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZKFZGsmUbM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv_ApzJoxeM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLr3r72mMus

The third segment commences with the opening of the A B C Theatre in 1963.

madorganplayer
madorganplayer on January 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Seems to me that anything of any interest in this place has been swept away years ago.Looking at the photo of it as built-what a fantastic building but its been butchered beyond recognition now.Other big buildings such as the opera House,the Grand and the old Odeon (Funny girls) or now more worthy of listing.

rasLXR
rasLXR on January 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-20908232 Campaign to save Blackpool’s ABC Theatre from demolition

A campaign to save a Blackpool theatre which hosted stars such as the Beatles and Morecambe and Wise has started.

Demolishing the former ABC Theatre would destroy an “important part” of the town’s heritage, said Gill Payne whose petition aims to save it.

But Elaine Smith MBE from Blackpool Civic Trust said it should be demolished. “People are confusing memories with heritage.”

Blackpool Council is planning to buy it and use the site as a car park.

The 1960s TV show Big Night Out was filmed at the ABC Theatre before it became a cinema in the 80s.

In 1992 it was transformed into a club and opened as the Syndicate. This closed down in 2011 and it has remained empty since.

Ian
Ian on December 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

The Syndicate closed circa 2010 and the building in 2012 is unused and for sale.

Robbie25646
Robbie25646 on September 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Memories, Memories. I did a long, long summer season here with Tommy Steele, Billy Dainty and Mary Hopkins. It was the happiest summer season I ever worked!

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on May 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Take a look at the new pics I have loaded.. Memories of Better times

abcman
abcman on February 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm

The opening show in 1963 at the new Church Street ABC Theatre was in fact called ‘Holiday Carnival’.

Picturedrome
Picturedrome on February 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

The ABC Princess wasn’t on the Promenade, and was opposite the Metropole Hotel (not Theatre), whose front was on the Promenade.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on February 4, 2012 at 11:13 pm

???? It was devided up in 1981 before the Cannon Takeover.. The First Manager was Bob Parsons followed by Chadwick from memory I used to work for the Real ABC co., before going Independent

GramRfone
GramRfone on February 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Sorry…but the ABC theatre was NEVER known as the Princess. The ABC Princess was on the promenade opposite the Metropole Theatre and had no stage facilities of any kind. The ABC in Church Street was formerly the Hippodrome, and the openinmg show was Summer Holiday starring Cliff and the Shadows. I know this to be true because I was the Co-Chief Projectionist/Lighting Engineer at the time. The ABC eventually ended up in the hands of Cannon and was then divided up into one major screen in the old Circle, and 2/3 under the neath in the stall. It eventaully ended up as a Nite Club / Disco.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on June 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

What a shame that this venue is no longer operating as a cinema or theatre.

My first visit here was in either 1971 or 1973 while on a coach trip from the Welsh valleys to see the Blackpool Illuminations. At that time the venue was known as the ABC Princess and during our visit the ABC was in use for live performances although movies were being advertised in the foyer as future attractions once the Summer/Autumn season was over with.

Our visit was to see a stage show with starring Cilla Black. To us valley types at that time the auditorium was pure luxury and the stage presentation exceptional at that time. To me it would have been unthinkable to convert the venue from one auditorium to split screens. The facade was certainly late sixties and appeared to be covering the original structure.

keiths
keiths on June 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Thankyou abcman. Looking at your pics of the operahouse, you are, of course, quite right – it WAS a long time ago, after all. However, I DID see a summer show at the ABC, but now can’t remember who it was for the life of me!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 26, 2010 at 5:30 am

Pictures and other material relating to the original Hippodrome/ABC theater: View link

abcman
abcman on November 24, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Sorry Keith, but Brucie & Millie appeared at the Opera House not the ABC otherwise I agree with what you say.

keiths
keiths on November 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I attended a summer show at the ABC on one occasion, featuring Bruce Forsyth and Millicent Martin. My opinion of both of them increased dramatically as a result.

terry
terry on August 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Tony Hancock took over from Mike and Bernie Winters as compere of the weekly tv variety show at the ABC Theatre, but he was on the wane by this time and did not fare very well – Bruce Forsyth took over from him for a few shows.

I actually think this clip is very funny…………………….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXe2pzOA8Yw