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This is a screen grab from “All About Eve” (1950) with the marquee advertising a [fictitious] play within the film.
Yes, Philip, that could well have been the case. I was able to see inside the ground floor: it’s a large space with a relatively high ceiling, ideal for use as a cinema in 1908.
By late 2016 the building was vacant – indeed, internally it had been stripped back to decaying bare brick. It is due to be converted into Peckham Market, a venue for work, events, food and music, with offices on the first and second floors and an events venue on the ground floor.
In the meantime, an ad-hoc market occupies the ground floor, while the enterprising folks behind the Rooftop Film Club, based in the adjoining Bussey Building, have converted the second floor into the Winter Film Club.
Repertory screenings of seasonal-themed films are taking place from 1st to 23rd December. I visited on Sunday 18th December to see my favourite big-screen action thriller, “Die Hard”, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Despite the designation as a Film Club, membership is not required.
160 Rooftop Film Club deck chairs have been installed. There is a balcony (that, judging by the exterior window line, might once have been a separate, third upper floor) which is home to the bar/concession counter and loose tables and chairs. The digital projector is in the centre of the balcony front, while the soundtrack is relayed (very effectively) through individual headphones. The screen is 16ft by 9ft. With minimal available facilities some imaginative lighting gives a nice ‘cinematic’ atmosphere, while a large number of candles light the entrance stairs – and also the stairs up to the rather dark toilets! Heating is provided by an industrial blower (which is switched off during the film!) and blankets are also available: it all made for a wonderful experience.
However, whether the film was screened in the space last used in 1915 by the Electric Theatre is not so clear-cut, as there are three floors to choose from. The second floor balcony is not raked, and gives all the appearance of a much more recent addition. There is no indication where the projection box might have been. Nevertheless, the second floor, with its very high ceiling, would have been an ideal location. However, even if the Electric occupied the ground floor, this is still a very imaginative use of a building that did once house a cinema, and I congratulate the organisers on their endeavours.
In March 1977 a friend and I visited Paris to attend the 6th International Fantasy Festival at the Grand Rex. As lifelong lovers of horror films we were delighted to discover the horror-themed Le Brady. Although I took a photograph of the cinema we didn’t see any films there. Instead, we saw two double bills at Le Colorado, a similarly horror-themed cinema. (So Le Brady wasn’t quite as unique as indicated above.)
In March 1977 a friend and I visited Paris to attend the 6th International Fantasy Festival at the Grand Rex. As lifelong lovers of horror films we were delighted to discover the horror-themed Le Colorado, at which we saw two double bills that were presumably typical of its fare: “Le Creature Invisible” (“The Sorcerers” [UK/1967], starring Boris Karloff, complete with English title and BBFC ‘X’ certificate!) + “Dracula, Prisonnier de Frankenstein”  and “Magdalena, l'Exorcisee” ( UK: “Magdalena: Possessed by the Devil”) + “Le Monstre du Chateau” ( UK: “Killers of the Castle of Blood”). I don’t recall any ‘horror’ decoration inside the cinema. I just remember a relatively small single floor auditorium (and the requirement to tip the elderly usherette as she showed my friend and me to our seats, something we weren’t prepared for!). So the cinema was operating until at least March 1977.
Although I now live in Southend-on-Sea, Loughborough is my home town and, on visits to see my father, I was able to periodically document the construction of the Cineworld. I have numbered these “Construction photographs” as “1 of 22”, etc. The first ones were taken in February 2015, when the foundations were being dug out.
I well remember the former General Hospital (though thankfully I had little need of its services!). It had been built in 1863, with many additions over the years, especially in the 1930s, but had become very outdated. It had closed in March 2003 and was eventually demolished in 2012.
The question now is whether a medium-sized town such as Loughborough can support two multi-screen cinemas. When I made my first visit to the Cineworld, in December 2016 to see “Allied”, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, there was clearly a price war, with seats for standard 2D films, all day every day, being just £5.00, to counteract the Odeon’s £4.00. As a new, purpose-built multiplex the Cineworld clearly has the advantage, but it would be a shame if the historic Odeon was forced to close.
This wonderful cinema is currently in the very safe hands of manager Jacob Mundin, a member of the family that has rescued the Ritz at Belper, Derbyshire, and the Savoy at Heaton Moor, Greater Manchester. After initially re-opening in March 2013, The Regal re-opened again on 23rd June 2016 following further refurbishment and is proving extremely popular with local cinemagoers (as is the membership scheme, which allows members £1.50 off the ticket price, together with other benefits).
But tribute should be paid to former operator John Merryweather, who took over in 2000 but sadly died, at only 65 years of age, in April 2012. In April 2007 he proved to be a very welcoming host during the Cinema Theatre Association’s visit to Leicestershire. No doubt he would be delighted that his cinema is continuing to provide the town’s film entertainment.
The box office is in the ground floor corner entrance. A stairway or lift takes patrons up to the first floor where there is a large bar/diner/lounge (where a “Spielburger”(!) can be purchased, alongside the usual pizzas, hot dogs and spicy chicken wings) and there is the entrance to Screen 5. Classic film posters decorate many of the walls. Screens 1 to 4 are on the next floor up.
The Arts Centre re-opened in May 2016 after a full refurbishment, which saw a bar/lounge being created in former storage space on the first floor. A side lounge is fitted with a screen and projector for informal, small-scale screenings.
When I visited, in October 2016 for a screening of “Life on the Road”, starring Ricky Gervais, I was given a very warm welcome by founder Dan Ellis and his colleague Barbara. Dan was inspired to set up this not-for-profit, community interest company-run cinema when he noticed that people were having to travel some distance away from the town to the cinema. The Jam Jar Cinema, on the first floor of a former Job Centre, is certainly staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. There is a very pleasant bar/lounge. In the auditorium, the original 42 previously-unused Odeon ‘Premier’ seats have, since opening, been joined by four two-seater settees across the front, increasing the capacity to 50. With such a relatively small capacity many screenings sell out. There are also accessibility issues, as the only way up is via a steep flight of stairs. For these reasons, Dan is on the lookout for larger, more accessible premises. However, in the meantime, he and his team are doing a super job, and I wished him every success.
During my visit, in October 2016 to see “Deepwater Horizon”, starring Kurt Russell and Mark Wahlberg, I had a nice chat with the very friendly staff, and was informed that the seating capacities are: Screen 1:268; Screen 2:67; Screen 3:47; Screen 4:180; Screen 5:173; Screen 6:147 and Screen 7:111.
Sadly, on a visit to Hartlepool in October 2016, when I was hoping to meet up with Adam and Hayley again, I discovered that they have closed their Move Café. As can be seen from my photographs, it was by then O'Malley’s Irish bar. The partitioning that created the cinema space has been removed, resulting in one single bar space.
Researching the internet, it appears that the Café closed earlier in 2016, with Adam saying he had started a film production company and a new YouTube subscription venture. I recall him having an interest in filmmaking, and I wish him well with these new ventures.
Further to Buffer’s comment, on a visit to the town in October 2016 I noted that the only film shows at the Coliseum were fortnightly screenings by Whitby Film Society. As Buffer says, regular commercial screenings now take place at the Whitby Pavilion.
I had a very pleasant evening at the Regent on Sunday 16th October, watching “Dirty Dancing”, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. In the afternoon I had a look around the antiques/collectables centre in the former stalls, before heading upstairs to the former circle in the evening. Since re-opening in July, older films have been screened two or three times a week, mainly Friday to Sunday, from DVD using a projector suspended beneath the balcony.
The 124 seats are originals that have been refurbished. They are set out in blocks either side of the central aisle, with 9 rows with 12 seats (6 either side of the aisle) and 8 sets of double seats along the back row. The individual seats are separated by small tables, handy for drinks and snacks. Owner Richard Taylor has done a terrific job – the place is immaculate – and I wished the enthusiastic duty manager all the best for the future.
When I visited in September 2016, with the Cinema Theatre Association, the Medica Palace was very much open. The manager told me a dispute with the landlord had led to the closure in 2015, but that had only been a temporary situation and the cinema soon re-opened.
As can be seen from my photograph, by September 2016 the hairdressers had moved out and a florists had moved in.
I have a diary note that I saw “The Poseidon Adventure” at the Olympia on 9th August 1973. I can remember nothing of this visit, but it does confirm there was some film activity in its later years.
By August 2016 Freedom Church had indeed moved into the building. Rather amusingly, the Odeon logo “FANATICAL ABOUT FILM” is still visible over the entrance!
‘The Celluloid Ladies’, relief sculptures that flanked the Odeon name on the cinema’s frontage, were saved during demolition. They were restored in August 2015 and have been relocated, with an information plaque, to an outside wall of the town’s Brewery Quarter, which contains the Cineworld and Screening Rooms cinemas. See my photos.
By August 2016 (see my photos) the Palace had been converted into a library and Customer Services for Caerphilly County Borough Council. The frontage had been cleaned and restored, but it was unclear how much of the auditorium block survived, as a One Stop convenience store had been built to the left of the Palace, obscuring the rear of the former cinema.
By August 2016 the Plaza had become home to retail outlet The Original Factory Shop (see my photos).
In July 2016 the seating capacities are as follows: Stag Theatre: 450 seats, plus an additional 140 that can be placed on the stage for performances ‘in the round’; Cinema Screen 1: 129; Cinema Screen 2: 120 and the Stag Plaza Suite: 150 (seated, theatre-style). A total of 989 seats.
By the time I visited, in June 2016, the building had become The Play House, a lounge bar.
The seating capacities of the cinemas and theatres are: La Scala cinema: 138 seats; The Playhouse cinema: 86 seats; Empire theatre: 840 seats and One Touch theatre: 247 seats (223 in the stalls, 24 in the balcony).
In a nice touch, the two cinemas and the Empire theatre are named after former cinemas and a cinema/theatre that entertained the city’s inhabitants for many years. There are heritage information panels outside the auditoriums.
The two cinemas are known collectively as The Robertson Screens in commemoration of the generous donation made by the Robertson Group, the main contractor for the building of the cinemas in 2007. The two auditoriums are back to back, with a common projection room between them.