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I can only agree with you in what Chris has done with the former Odeon in Newport to establish a permanent home for his cinema memerabilla and projection equipment. The building itself is a classic art-decor Odeon design of the mid 1930s the exterior totally unchanged and now thankfully listed as a classic example of Odeon cinema design, He does indeed need the support and encouragement of every user of cinematreasures to maintain this building and improve it as a living museum of film and projection equipment.
Yes indeed the projection equipment in the late 60s and early 70s and infact upto the closure for conversion to a triple complex were Phillips DP70/35 projectors. Mostly during this time the film format was 35mm, but yes in 1972 “Ryans Daughter” was screened in 70mm and also “Ben Hur” then in 1974 a two week re-run of “Dr Zhivago” which was the last film to be shown in 70mm, and with the last 35mm shown on that equipment was “Jaws” after a 3 month run.
The Projection team were highly professional and presentation was always of a very high standard.
The Cinema was always extremly busy during this period and the staff very well trained in seating the near 1,600 capacity audiances very quickly which usually took place during the showing of the short feature, well in time for the start of the main film.
The bingo Hall in the former stalls area of the building ceased trading in January 2008 due mainly to the downturn in people attending caused by the no-smoking ban. Although the situation of the cinema did look secure this also closed a few weeks later as the owner of the cinema due to the financial situation put the building up for sale.
Due to a huge local outcry and support from families and children on the Island and the nearest cinema being 64 miles away at Llandudno Junction the owner agreed to re-open the cinema in time for Easter school holidays in 2008.
Although the building remains for sale and in September the pub chain Wetherspoons expressed an interest in purchasing the building, thankfully this fell through, also an application by a multiplex operator to build a new complex on the Island also fell through.
Hopefully the cinema operation will continue for a long time until the fate of the building is determined.
Well just a brief few lines on the Bleanavon Workmans Hall, like many of these workmans halls in the South Wales Valleys, this was built in 1894 and opened on 7th January 1895 making it 105 years old this year. The Original cost of the building was Â£10,000 and like many valley institutes was paid for by the weekly contributions of the miners and iron workers making a small contribution from their wages. Originaly the hall contained a very large theatre later converted to cinema use,the hall also contained meeting rooms, snooker rooms, and libary.
The Hall is now owned by the local council and operated by an independent management committee made up of local volunteers.
Now the main 400 seater auditorium stalls and balcony seat 400 and has been refurbished to a very high standard, the main hall however does not double as the cinema, the 80 seat cinema is in another part of the building just off the main lobby, and is open and shows current release fims 4 nights a week.
A Phillips FP20 projector and tower system is used in the projection room.
Blaenavon is a world heritage town with its Big Pit musuem and Iron works museum.
Yes Martin, planning permission is almost certain now for a Travelodge hotel and the cinema is operating on a week to week basis, but once closed the cinema will have to stripped of all its seating and equipment before the developers move in.
It looks as though no-one noticed but the cinema just passed its 40 years of operation on 28th November and sadly it is due to close in January 2008. The main reason being the current lease ending, and the major redevelopment of Newport City Centre over the past year has not helped business. Plans by the landlord are to redevelop the site for a hotel, it seems replacing cinema seats for beds.
The guy in question was Lyn Thomas, who also had converted buldings of various shapes and sizes into D.I.Y cinemas in the early 1970s one being in the town of Ebbw Vale and another in Pontypool.
In the film “The Smallest Show on Earth” the Bijou is situated in
a mythical Northern English town of Sloughborough.
The frontage of the cinema was however a studio mock-up set, as was
the tatty interior of the auditorium.
The exterior of The Super Grand Cinema where Bill Travers and
Virginia McKenna go to see how a “real” cinema operates was infact
the former Gaumont Palace Hammersmith London.
As a young Assistant Manager working for ABC in the mid 1970’s, I have a close assosiation with this cinema, and that still remains so today, therefore a brief history to bring it upto date.
The ABC Bridge Street Newport, (site of the former Lyceum Theatre), opened on 28th November 1968 with “Half a Sixpence”. Arcitect C.J.Foster, there house arcitect together with Alan Morgan designed the the almost square building occupying a whole block of its own on Bridge Street. The seating was 1322 on a stadium plan, although the auditorium was very plain, the huge screen from wall to wall was very impressive and still is today.
The open plan lobby also at this time had a fully equiped kitchen to cater for lunches and light snacks.
The ABC was converted to a Three Screen Complex from the 4th December 1980 seating 572 in Screen 1, 190 in Screen 2, and 126 in Screen 3. The main cinema now occupying the front section of the former auditorium, and the two smaller screens the rear part of the former auditorium. The origianl projection room remained and was able to serve the 3 cinemas by just repositioning the projectors.
The ABC became the only remaining cinema in Newport after the closure of the Odeon in 1981 and Studios 1 and 2 in 1986.
Ownership changes saw Cannon operate the cinema, and the cinema was renamed “Cannon” until 1995 when it was reverted back under ABC, and again renamed ABC.
In 1997 ABC had nearly Â£50,000 worth of new sound equipment installed in preperation for the opening of a new Virgin (now UGC) 13 screen multiplex on the outskirts of Newport, but the success of the new multiplex forced ABC owners to close the cinema on 15th April 1999.
The cinema remained closed for over a year until a London Based Company leased the cinema and following a Â£500,000 refit, reducing the seating in Screen 1 to 406, 171 in Screen 2, and 117 Screen 3, re-opening on 15th December 2000 now renamed “Metro”, but just 13 months after its high profile launch the cinema closed for a second time.
Operation of the cinema then passed to another London Cinema Exhibition company who reopened the cinema 3 weeks later, the cinema now renamed “City”, however again this did not prove a success for the company, and when it was about close for a further time, discussions took place between the owners of the cinema and a local South Wales cinema exhibitor who pursuaded them in 2003 that run under a local consultancy with local hands on management the cinema could compete with the out of town multiplex.
This has now proved to be a success in 2004, and the future of the City Cinema now looks on course for a successfull future.
The Former Odeon was used for many years as a snooker hall on the ground floor, the balcany, main foyer and circle lounge area remained disused and derelict.
The building was purchased by a local business man in 2003 who has transformed the former cinema at a cost of over a Â£1m into a music and concert venue known as The Newport City Live Arena.
The building has now been totally refurbished, and now houses a large screen for live sports events, and has become a successful multi-purpose venue for live events.
The exterior of the building is grade II listed, thankfully preserving its classic Art Deco style.