Comments from DavidSimpson

Showing 1 - 25 of 233 comments

DavidSimpson commented about Blackburn Hall on May 24, 2016 at 9:32 am

When I visited in May 2016 I was unable to gain entry, but through the front doors I could see a commemorative plaque in the foyer. It was not easy to read, but from what I could make out it said that the building had been acquired by Rothwell Urban District Council in (I believe, though this date was unfortunately indistinct) March 1959 – when, following alterations and extensions, it was re-named and re-opened as the Blackburn Hall. I could just see into the auditorium, which has a flat floor and stage. The date of March 1959 does tie in with the information in the comments above.

DavidSimpson commented about Roxy Cinema on May 24, 2016 at 9:21 am

Although known as Café Sport, the building is actually home to two gyms, two function rooms and a bar. When I visited in May 2016 it was up for sale.

DavidSimpson commented about IMC Banbridge on May 20, 2016 at 1:55 pm

On Friday 12th February 2016 IMC Cinemas bought the Iveagh Movie Studios from owner Dominic Quinn. The price was not divulged, but the Studios had been put up for sale in 2013 at an asking price of £1.3m.

IMC announced it would be spending £2.5m on a major refurbishment, which would include a new shop, updated, state of the art Dolby sound equipment and bigger screens. The company might even increase the number of auditoria by adding a VIP screen.

Doubts had been cast over the future of the Studios when, in 2014, IMC’s rival Omniplex was granted planning permission for an eight-screen cinema at a new leisure destination called The Outlet. It is unclear whether that new cinema will now go ahead.

Sadly, long-time Studios manager Giles Conlon decided to leave when IMC took over. He had been there since six months before the Studios opened. (An opening date of 26th March 2004 was quoted, which updates that given in the Overview above.)

DavidSimpson commented about Ham Yard Hotel Cinema on May 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Sadly, no films are being listed on the hotel’s website, and it appears that public film shows have ended. (Perhaps this is not too surprising: when I visited, on a Sunday afternoon in August 2015 to see “The Terminator”, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, no-one else turned up. It was wonderful to see such a fabulous film in such luxurious surroundings, but it did not bode well!)

DavidSimpson commented about IMC Enniskillen on May 19, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Sometime between 2013 and 2014 the Omniplex was acquired by IMC and renamed accordingly.

DavidSimpson commented about IMC Omagh on May 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm

In December 2015 the Multiscreen Studios were acquired by IMC and renamed accordingly.

DavidSimpson commented about Borsi D'Essai on Apr 28, 2016 at 8:00 am

I should have added that the local Laurel & Hardy group, known as “Teste Dure” (“Block-Heads”, one of the comedy duo’s films) held their annual meetings at the Cinema Borsi from 2006 to 2013 – especially as their meeting in 2016 was the reason for my visit to Prato! (That meeting was held in the Teatro Magnolfi, a community theatre in a former orphanage, now a hostel, outside the walled centre of the town.) The L&H group is run by local residents (and teachers) Alessandro Santi and his wife Francesca Noci.

DavidSimpson commented about Multiplex Omnia Center on Apr 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

I can add that the Multiplex opened in late 2009.

DavidSimpson commented about Artrix Cinema on Apr 26, 2016 at 5:45 am

A commemorative plaque records that the Artrix opened on 7th April 2005.

According to the venue’s website “Artrix is a versatile multi-disciplinary arts centre with a 300 seat auditorium, a spacious dance studio, meeting rooms and a visually stunning foyer/gallery. The auditorium’s balcony and side galleries give it an unusual intimacy, while its flexible central seating can be retracted to provide a dance floor.

The annual programme is made up of well over 200 specialist film screenings, over 400 workshop sessions and 12 exhibitions as well as participation and educational projects in the local community. Its live programme consists of over 200 performances, including chamber and orchestral concerts, jazz, folk and blues gigs, top stand up comedy, cutting edge theatre and dance and more traditional drama.

Managed by a charitable trust, Artrix works closely with Bromsgrove District Council and Heart of Worcestershire College."

DavidSimpson commented about Cinema Astra 2 on Apr 26, 2016 at 12:58 am

I visited in March 2016. According to a note taped to the front door, the Astra 2 closed on Wednesday 7th January 2015.

DavidSimpson commented about Omniplex Cinema on Mar 22, 2016 at 2:37 am

I should have added that I took my photographs of the Global in September 2008.

DavidSimpson commented about Tudor Cinema on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:31 am

Many apologies! I mistakenly added photos of the Picture House/Regal/Essoldo/Apollo (etc!) to this entry. I have now moved them to their correct page.

DavidSimpson commented about St. Enoch Picture Theatre on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I am indebted to Bill Crouch (no relation to proprietor Herbert Crouch) for providing the photograph of the St. Enoch Picture House and these references from books and newspapers.

In 1897 Crouch’s Wonderland exhibited “A Living Baby; 12 inches long; 24 ounces in weight; age 16 months” (according to ‘They Belonged to Glasgow’, undated, by Rudolph Kenna and Ian Sutherland) while, on 9th December 1907, the ‘Glasgow Programme’ reported that “This popular exhibition has been overhauled and some very important attractions have been added for the holidays. [The Waxworks] are not only permanent attractions quite equal to many of our variety halls, but a thousand little wax figures and side shows which amaze and interest the curious visitor.”

On 18th February 1909, ‘The Eagle’ reported that Herbert Crouch was born 67 years ago in Burton Crescent, behind old St. Pancras Church, London. After running away from home he enlisted in the 4th Royal Artillery, seeing active service in Canada before buying his discharge in Montreal. Returning to England he made his first acquaintance with show life when he met a chap called Hewitt, better known (for reasons not given!) as “Squeaking Betty”, and they visited Glasgow during the Fair. Splitting from Hewitt, Crouch returned to Glasgow and exhibited the first tinfoil gramophone in a shop in St. Vincent Street. It created a sensation; after the engagement he bought the machine from Professor Forbes, of the Andersonian College, for £7 10s, and exhibited it at 137 Argyle Street. Eventually he opened the waxworks at that address, adding freaks, mechanical figures and bronze statues over the last thirty years.

And on 3rd January 1944, in a letter in ‘The Glasgow Herald’, “L.M.” said that his father had been commissioned to paint an advertisement banner for the exterior when films were first exhibited. He recalled that Mr Crouch was unsure whether “Cinematograph” was subject to copyright, so he used “Kinematograph”. The operator [projectionist] was Mrs Crouch. The films, running 200ft or 300ft, had to be bought outright. They had no titles, so Mr Crouch would stand to one side announcing each of them. The hall used for the film shows was on the ground floor. Very early musical ‘sound’ films were shown, using a hook-up between the projector and a gramophone record, but they were difficult to synchronise and they did not last long. It is believed that Mr Crouch died a few months before the First World War, at about 70 years of age.

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.