Comments from DavidSimpson

Showing 1 - 25 of 220 comments

DavidSimpson commented about Graham Cinema on Feb 1, 2016 at 7:57 am

Following on from ghamilton’s comment dated July 15, 2008, this cinema featured in the indie horror film “Dark Awakening”, directed by Dean C. Jones in 2014. As well as the exterior, there was a scene in the auditorium, which showed that large space off very well.

DavidSimpson commented about Palace Theatre on Jan 18, 2016 at 9:43 am

As archivist at the Palace Theatre I can clarify its history of screen entertainment. Films were part of the original variety presentations – the opening advert proclaimed “Cinema & Vaudeville: The Best of Both” – but these ended in May 1913, when the theatre went over to weekly plays.

The projection box was at ground floor level, behind the stalls. Between the box and the outside front wall was the rewind room.

Gertrude Mouillot acquired the theatre in 1920. A former actress, and widow of wealthy theatrical entrepreneur Frederick Mouillot, I do not believe she hoped to open it as a cinema. It is my supposition that she converted the then-redundant box and rewind room to other uses, but had a alcove built into the back wall of the stage, so films could be shown using rear projection. In the 1920s these were occasional special presentations, mainly documentaries about adventures around the world.

In the early 1930s the theatre was converted into a full-time cinema, the Palace Cinema. But this only ran from 30th October 1932 until 25th March 1933.

The theatre returned to live shows, and the next film shows were not presented until May 2009, when local company The White Bus used the theatre for the Southend Film Festival, after which, the same month, they began their regular Sunday film shows with “Burn Before Reading”, starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. The projection equipment and screen are brought in for each show; the digital projector is flown from the circle front.

Incidentally, the theatre opened as the New Palace Theatre. It became the Palace Theatre in March 1922.

There is a full history of the theatre on the Palace Theatre Club’s website at

DavidSimpson commented about Essoldo Southend-on-Sea on Jan 18, 2016 at 6:26 am

Just to clarify, when the Essoldo closed it was making money, but it was purchased by Keddies Stores (which fronted onto the High Street, adjacent to the Essoldo) for £35,000 and converted into Supa-Save, one of the town’s first supermarkets. Later, the building was demolished and Keddies store was extended over the site.

More recently, Keddies store has been demolished. A Travelodge hotel occupies the site facing Warrior Square.

DavidSimpson commented about Odeon Southend-on-Sea on Jan 18, 2016 at 3:07 am

The Odeon multiplex was built on the site of the long demolished municipal college, at the top of the High Street at Victoria Circus. Due to the limited ground floor space, it was built on three floors, with Screens 1 and 2 at ground floor level, Screens 3 and 4 on the first floor, and Screens 5 to 8 on the top floor.

There are two projection boxes: A split-level box serves Screens 1 to 4, while a separate box serves Screens 5 to 8.

There is a café on the ground floor. All the auditoriums have draped walls, either in rose pink or green.

The opening ceremony was accompanied by a screening of “Brassed Off”.

In July 2000 the Odeon hosted the gala premiere of the new British film “Essex Boys”. Stars Sean Bean, Ray Winstone, Jude Law and Sadie Frost were among the invited guests.

Since 2009 the Odeon has hosted the Gala Opening Night of the annual Southend Film Festival.

In January 2016, seating capacities are: Screen 1: 166 seats; Screen 2: 224; Screen 3: 112; Screen 4: 182; Screen 5: 328; Screen 6: 223; Screen 7: 223 and Screen 8: 169. A total of 1,627. All auditoriums have wheelchair spaces, and Premier seats occupy the rear rows.

DavidSimpson commented about Castle Cinema on Jan 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm

When I visited Rhayader, in July 2010, I had difficulty locating this former cinema. A sign on West Street (that is a continuation of Bridge Street) still pointed to the Castle Cinema. Following it, I photographed a one-storey building that is nothing like the illustration uploaded by Editha – and it isn’t even a Mace supermarket!

Hopefully a photograph that is definitely of the former cinema will be uploaded, so the correct building can be viewed.

DavidSimpson commented about Kino Sfinks on Jan 9, 2016 at 9:11 am

The notes for the Cinema Theatre Association visit to Krakow in June 2010 said that this was the only cinema still operating in the Nowa Huta industrial district. It opened around 1960, and at that time had 100 seats (having been renovated and re-seated around 2006). It forms part of the C. K. Norwid Cultural Centre, and is incorporated into an apartment block.

DavidSimpson commented about Palace Cinema on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

Further to my narrative above, the Street View image indicates that the building is now boarded up.

DavidSimpson commented about Regal Cinema on Jan 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Further to my narrative above, the Regal was listed in the 1980 Cinema Directory published by the Cinema Theatre Association. By then, it had 400 seats, and was open during the summer season only. It was also listed in British Film Institute Handbooks up to at least 2000.

DavidSimpson commented about Bream Miners' Welfare Cinema on Jan 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

A photograph of the building as the Bream Miners' Welfare Cinema can be seen here:

DavidSimpson commented about FeckenOdeon on Dec 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

On Saturday 26th April 2008 I was given a very warm welcome by Ian Bellion and his team for a double bill of “Our Man in Havana”, starring Alec Guinness, and Buster Keaton in “The Cameraman”. It was lovely to see such devotion to the art of cinema showmanship. See my photographs.

DavidSimpson commented about Century Theatre on Dec 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm

The Discovery Museum closed on 31st July 2015. Happily, the Century Theatre is continuing to operate as normal.

DavidSimpson commented about Picture House on Dec 16, 2015 at 3:01 am

The very helpful lady at the library in Banchory has provided some further information – having spoken to a local lady whose brother was an assistant projectionist at the Glen! That cinema was, as suspected, situated in the Town Hall. It started in the 1940s, which ties in with my information in the Overview.

It also turns out that the Picture House didn’t open until 1954 – hence its non-appearance in the earlier Kinematograph Year Books! The Glen appears to have carried on for a while after the Picture House opened, operating under the name The Banchory Cinema for a while.

DavidSimpson commented about New Cinema on Dec 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Further information has come to light about this cinema. When I wrote the above overview I was surprised that it appeared that this building had not been erected until 1957. Well, it hadn’t been! I don’t know when it was built, but it wasn’t purpose-built for films, as it started life in the 1910s or 1920s as a skating rink, before becoming a theatre and even showing films, from 1924 to 1929, before becoming a dance hall until 1952. That use ceased after a few years, and the New Cinema opened in 1957.

DavidSimpson commented about ABC Kidderminster on Dec 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm

In April 2005, the site of the ABC/Central was occupied by a Safeway supermarket.

DavidSimpson commented about Cine Sura on Dec 13, 2015 at 6:33 am

Having done some further research, I can clarify my opening comment. It isn’t that the Sura claims to be one of the oldest cinemas in Luxembourg, but that the first film shows in Luxembourg took place in Echternach, making the town a historic place for cinema exhibition in the country. However, those shows were not at the Sura, which didn’t open until 1991!

DavidSimpson commented about Mabi Cinema on Dec 13, 2015 at 12:23 am

The first cinema on this site was the Gala Bioscoop, which operated from 17th October 1910 to 1912.

The Cinema Pathe then operated from 1913 until 29th April 1930, before the Mabi opened.

After the Mabi closed, in 1994, it was not until 1997 that the building was converted into the current hotel.

DavidSimpson commented about Picturehouse Central on Dec 10, 2015 at 12:33 am

According to Picturehouse publicity in November 2015, the auditorium capacities are: Screen 1: 341, Screen 2: 177, Screen 3: 131, Screen 4: 127, Screen 5: 82, Screen 6: 78 and Screen 7: 65. A total of 1,001 seats.

DavidSimpson commented about Cromwell Cinema Centre on Dec 8, 2015 at 3:11 pm

As can be seen from my photographs, when I visited in January 2004 the cinema was due to re-open, as Cineplex, that March. I am unsure whether it did re-open and, if so, when it subsequently closed.

DavidSimpson commented about Vue Scunthorpe on Dec 8, 2015 at 5:20 am

Cinemark certainly brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to the UK exhibition scene! See also their interior design for the UCI/Vue at Northampton. It’s a pity they decided to call it a day in the UK after building these two multiplexes.

DavidSimpson commented about Regal Cinema on Dec 7, 2015 at 4:16 pm

The Regal was still operating in July 2003, when manager Mike Flook made me very welcome (we had first met at the Rebel, Bude, when he ran that cinema) and I was able to take my series of photographs.

DavidSimpson commented about Odeon Milton Keynes on Dec 7, 2015 at 7:33 am

I’ve just uploaded some photos I took when I visited The Point as easyCinema in July 2003. Running from May 2003 to May 2006, this was either a bold entrepreneurial venture or a foolish odyssey, depending on how one views this fascinating footnote to UK film exhibition.

Appalled by what he regarded as a waste of capacity, easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou was determined to end what he called ‘rip-off cinema’ and make maximum use of the seats available. His answer was to adopt the easyJet model, and offer seats at very low prices in advance, with the price increasing as show time approached. In addition, tickets would have to be booked on-line, saving the expense of a box office. Patrons entered the auditorium via a turnstile, operated from the bar code on their booking confirmation. They were free to bring along their own food and drink – and asked to take away their rubbish, all these measures being aimed at reducing the number of staff on duty.

But no cinema can operate without any staff at all, so a computer terminal was set up in the otherwise rather sparse foyer for patrons who either just turned up, or who were unable to book on-line in advance, and the staff mainly provided assistance with this.

An amusing consequence of the electronic turnstiles was the notices urging patrons to go to the toilet before entering the auditorium – as leaving and re-entry was not permitted for a specified time after entry!

Stelios tub-thumped an advance ticket price of just 20p. Not surprisingly, the major distributors were not at all keen on this, and his failure to obtain first run films signalled the death knell for his bold experiment. In the event, he persevered for three years, quite an achievement in itself.

As for me, yes, I got my 20p movie! I saw “Anger Management”, starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, on Thursday 10th July 2003, when I took these photographs. As a comparison, price-wise, I was then paying between £4.00 and £5.25, depending on the time of day, at my local Odeon in Southend-on-Sea.

DavidSimpson commented about Kursaal Cinema on Dec 6, 2015 at 2:34 am

Following on from Ken’s narrative above, the Brent Walker Group acquired the Kursaal complex in the 1970s. The amusement park was sold off for a housing development and the main Kursaal buildings were to be brought back to life. Unfortunately, the Group encountered financial difficulties, and was unable to proceed.

Eventually, the buildings were acquired by the Rowallan Group, which undertook a multi-million pound restoration. The ‘new’ Kursaal opened in 1998, with a bowling alley, restaurants and amusement arcade on the ground floor and a multi-purpose space on the first floor. Sadly, films have not featured in the entertainments on offer since re-opening, but it is lovely to see this famous sea front landmark back to its best.

DavidSimpson commented about Southwold Electric Picture Palace on Nov 29, 2015 at 12:47 am

As Seth says, this is a remarkable small town cinema, run with much loving care by a team of dedicated volunteers.

I was fortunate to visit Southwold on a number of occasions before the work began and during the cinema’s construction. Seeing the original cart shed it’s hard imagine how it could be transformed into such a splendid cinema. In May 2002, only a short while after the cinema opened, I was privileged to arrange a visit by The Cinema Theatre Association, so members could inspect this amazing cinema.

DavidSimpson commented about UCI Hull on Nov 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Hi mindflowers and Playhousegoer. Here’s the exterior photo I took when I visited the UCI in February 2002. No interior photos, I’m afraid.

DavidSimpson commented about Regent Cinema on Nov 24, 2015 at 5:56 am

I also photographed this cinema in October 2012, when it was The Mango Tree restaurant.