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This was the last cinema built in South Shields before WWII.
Unlike most UK cinemas it had a box-office that opened directly onto the pavement between the main entrance doors. It also had an unusual diamond-shaped auditorium. It was regularly used by the local operatic society as a theatre until the bingo management made alterations that made further theatrical use impossible. It used to have split weeks with two different programmes each week. The house lights were not on a dimmer. There were two sets of neon tubes in the ceiling, one red and one white. When the performance was due to start the white lights went out followed by the red ones. The red ones came on at the end of the performance followed by the white ones. It looked very slick.
It was a very pleasant venue in which to watch a film programme.
This cinema was cosy and harked back to the days of silent cinema as it had side boxes which were seldom, if ever occupied. Despite its small screen it was a very pleasant venue in which to see the movies. Efforts to ‘list it’ were too late to save it. It made a positive contribution to the street-scape that the later supermarket failed to achieve.
I remember this cinema from when I was small and we lived around the corner. What I loved were the coloured lights in the ceiling. As the building used to be an ice rink these might well have been the compartment battens originally designed to flood the ice with changeable colours. It may have been an economy to keep these and just illuminate all of them as house lights. The cinema was reputed to have the longest ‘throw’ from the projection room to the screen of any cinema in the UK. I was very sad when I heard that it was closing.
There were two cinemas in Midleton. The ‘Southern Star’ was a silent cinema. It closed when the owner was killed by a lion in Africa, according to local gossip. (This is Ireland don’t forget!) It was still standing the last time I visited. It had become an auction room and it was at the Cork end of the Main Street. I remember that the projection portholes were still in evidence years after closure. It later was converted to a furniture store and evidence of its cinematic former self was lost.
The Ormond was according to local gossip owned by Conny Carey. It was built for “the Talkies”. It had a single tier with a shallow rake. The cinema was on a side street and the box office was situated on the pavement between the entrance doors. It was latterly operated by the |Green family. They partitioned-off the end with the splay walls and divided the auditorium into two narrow mini cinemas. The exterior from the back the cinema looked like a Dutch barn with a curved roof of corrugated concrete panels.
The Chinese has already been altered. If you look at old photographs you will see that the proscenium arch was originally built narrower and there were decorative splay walls either side. These have vanished to make way for a bigger screen. Did anyone complain when this happened?
I had the building “listed” while I was living is Dewsbury and won a Public Enquirey to have it preserved.