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The canopy was removed many years before demolition. The historic buildings surveyor, called in whilst initial preparations for demolition were in hand, observed the canopy anchor points and reported them to be metal ties holding the circle structure to the Shale Street wall.
When erected, the cinema must have deprived the adjacent houses of much daylight.
The entrance block was obviously aligned to face straight down the length of Redruth Street to the busy Padiham Road, from where it was visible to passing trade. Hence, why the Imperial always advertised as being on Redruth Street and not Shale Street.
There was one show that day, at 7-15 pm:
Stephen Murray, Kay Walsh and William Fox in “The Magnet” (U)
“Also News and Full Supporting Prog.”
This is an early photo. The auditorium lighting is indirect using wall recesses, coves and domes. When I frequented the Gaumont, as it was in the 1950s/early 60s, a large chandelier hung from the centre of the large dome, with subsidiary ones in the the smaller domes. The cove-lights in the domes were gone. There were still the three coves of light bulbs (a colossal number in total) in the proscenium frames. The curtains/tabs were deep red with three horizontal bands of gold towards the bottom. We sat in the (cheap) front stalls. When the curtains parted a Niagara of cold air rolled down off the stage into the front stalls area.
During the demolition in May 2009 a local woman wanted to salvage the art deco tiles but the demolition contractors were not prepared to allow or assist in any way. The tiles were destroyed. I suspect the “Regent” in blue and white glass went the same way.
According to an elderly woman interviewed for the British Library Millennium Memory Bank sound archive, the Regent had a circle.
The site of the former Majestic is now (2014) that of the of the offices of the Marsden Building Society.
The demolition information is also incorrect, according to Mercia Cinema Society’s “Chronicles of Pendle’s Picture Palaces” which quotes an article in the local newspaper ‘The Nelson Leader’ of 30 June 1961.
Star Cinemas were to acquire local cinema chain Victory Theatres, but the Majestic was to be sold to the Marsden Building Society as the site for their new HQ (which it is; see Street View). The cinema closed on Saturday 8 July 1961 with Jerry Lewis in ‘Cinderfella’ and Bob Hope in ‘The Paleface’.
The newspaper dates are correct. This casts doubt on “Having changed ownership, it opened as the New Star Cinema on Monday 18 January 1932 with Western Electric(WE) sound” which is in the Overview. That information was taken from ‘Chronicles of Pendle Picture Palaces’ published by the Mercia Cinema Society. It has been rechecked: not only is the 18 Jan 1932 date out, but the opening talkie was reported to be ‘Dance Fool Dance’ with Joan Crawford. It was released in the US in February 1931. ‘The Big House’, a gaol film with Lewis Stone and Wallace Beery was released in the US in June 1930.
A possible explanation could be both are right: a cheap/poor sound installation in 1931; then an upgrade to Western Electric 1932. However both the newspaper reports and the Mercia book connect the sound installation to change of ownership. Puzzling.
Odd to see the local paper get the spelling wrong. A licence: a document; is the noun. To license: to give permission or to allow; is a verb!
Are these premised licensed? So, can I see the licence?
There was a curved pediment at the roof-line and a different treatment of the wall in the vicinity of the entrance. Those of us who knew the building only from its later (bingo) decades will have be struck by how anonymous the entrance looked. The pediment had gone and the wall rendered plain. Apart from a discreet ‘Regent’ on the canopy there was no visual signal of the entrance’s location.
The Queens had a discrete, classical façade with a semi-domed entrance canopy on four columns. It opened on Saturday 13 December 1913 with a 2000ft film called ‘Caste’.
The first ‘sound’ show was 14 July 1930: Mon to Wed ‘The Deserrt Song’; Thurs to Sat ‘The Singing Fool’.
The cinema closed for two weeks, from 9 June 1934 for redecorating, reseating and installing “the latest appliances”.
In July 1956, alterations to the projection room involved a one week closure. It reopened with a 1950 Audie Murphy film and a 1955 film with no-one of note; neither in CinemaScope.
The final show was Saturday 28 May 1960. Demolition came in 1969.
It opened as the NEW CINEMA on 23 August 1913; by January 1922 had been renamed CINEMA HOUSE, which closed for alterations 3 July 1926 and reopened on 2 August 1926 as the TIVOLI THEATRE. Management changed early in 1932 and the cinema closed for further alterations and to upgrade the sound from Cinephone to Western Electric. It reopened on 2 May 1932, which is probably when the name changed to CAPITOL. In 1950 NEW CAPITOL was a trading name. The last show was on 3 April 1955.
This was Nelson’s first purpose-built cinema, opening 29 August 1910. It was of corrugated iron and wood; and accommodated 500 on benches with stoves for heating. After management changes and periods dark, it finally closed on 13 April 1940, having been refused a licence renewal because of the dangerous state of the building for use as a cinema. It was demolished and a nursery/primary school erected on the site.
The Regent Picturedrome opened Monday 9 October 1922 with “Dangerous Lies” and “When A Girl Loves” with Charlie Chaplin.
It ceased being a cinema on Saturday 2 July 1960; showing a double X-certificate horror programme: “Frankenstein’s Daughter” and “The Brain From Planet Arous”. It became a bingo hall.
The box at the top of the building was the projection room. It has been removed; though other roof top additions have recently been made.
Mercia Cinema Society’s “Chronicles of Pendle’s Picture Palaces” gives the last show as 5 May 1957; showing Burt Lancaster in ‘Ten Tall Men’. The article has: “The Alhambra seated 600 at the time of closure. The bath was still there under the wooden floor. It … became a leather goods works.”
The original, 1913, cinema seated 600.
One source reports that it was “reconstructed by George Longden & Son Ltd, sometime prior to 1935”. That would account for the appearance of the building in the 1949 aerial photo and the 900 seat capacity given in KYB 1935 (and subsequent editions). The reconstructed cinema had a balcony.
After closure, the building was used as a Fine Fare supermarket.
The pair of windows to the right of the entrance have “Imperial” and “Cafe” on them, respectively.
The alley to the left of the entrance is the exit route from: front circle; rear circle; and pit cross aisle. Three exits converging to one opening at the street!
The projection room is very small. There is a 20 Sept 1930 newspaper report of the owners applying for, and receiving, licence to ‘extend’ the projection room by ‘three feet’. However, it looks not to have happened. The reason for wanting to extend was the ‘larger size of the new “talkie” apparatus’.
In the early weeks of 1930 a newspaper article looking back at 1929 refers to sound being installed at the Imperial.
There is a 14 Dec 1935 newspaper report of the owners being summoned as a result of a police spot-check one Saturday night discovering that patrons were being accommodated on chairs placed in the aisles and by the exits.
The colour photo shows the absence of decorative plater detail on the pilasters and ceiling cornice of the south wall; but it appears to be there in the old photo.
The newspaper report on the Imperial’s opening explained that the balcony to the left of the screen was for the ‘orchestra’ (piano, violin and cello)and the one to the right was used for display purposes (large photographs of film stars).
On the right of the old photo the exit door is open, revealing the entrance lobby for patrons of the front/cheap seats.
The truncated pyramid on top of the entrance block was removed at some time; as was the top part of the architectural embellishment with “1920”. The pair of ground floor windows to the right of the entrance block later became a pair of exit doors to the foyer.
The gable with the lozenge was purely decorative. There was nothing inside to indicate its presence. Strangely, on the inside, there was detailed decorative plasterwork on the ceiling cornices and the pilasters on the north (i.e. far) wall of the auditorium, but none whatsoever on their counterparts inside the south wall when inspected prior to demolition.
Architect’s drawings (see another photo) show that the ashlar stone-faced main entrance was to have been capped with a truncated pyramid, supporting railings and a flag pole. It wasn’t constructed. The drawings also show that there was another entrance door on Shale Street at the screen end of the building. There was a small lobby with a small pay box (for patrons of the front/cheap seats).
The two doors under “Imperial Cinema” open into the “crush hall”; the blue door to their right is an emergency exit from the foyer across the back of the stalls.
The three windows above “Imperial Cinema” are into the manager’s office.
Easily overlooked is the precarious stone block arch to the left of the entrance doors. People leaving via the front circle and the centre stalls emergency exits (both on the far side of the auditorium) and via the rear circle emergency exit (in the rear of the auditorium) would emerge through that arch.
The projection room was a narrow box construction protruding half a dozen rows into the centre of the rear stalls. It looks to have been rather cramped. It was accessed from the foyer across the back of the stalls. A door from the foyer opened into an ante-room, from whence another door opened into the ‘box’. How and where it and the projectors were ventilated isn’t shown in plans. Ducts to the north wall over the heads of the rear stalls, via the circle void, look the only option, but there are no tell-tale signs on that wall in any photo.
Plans show the “magistrates” required “spare ground for queuing purposes” against the side of the building. The same drawings show a canopy on the side of the building to shelter those queuing. Perhaps the run of black marks on the wall indicates where a canopy was anchored.
The double doors at the far end of the building opened onto a small, roughly rectangular space. Entering, one would see a paybox in the far corner on the right, to its left a door in the far wall into the women’s toilet and in the wall on the left doors into the auditorium.
The blue doors on the left of the photo were an exit from the foyer running across the building behind the stalls. On one side there were two pairs of entrance doors at the heads of the aisles in the stalls and, between them, a door to the projection room ante chamber; on the other side were women’s and men’s toilets and the entrance from the crush hall.
The partially blanked window above the blue doors is on to the women’s toilets in a corner of the rear of the circle.
The gabled feature was purely decorative. There was nothing inside the auditorium to indicate its presence.
The ashlar stone was a decorative veneer on a red brick construction. I wonder what became of the two stones bearing “Imperial” and “Cinema” respectively. It would be nice to have had them included somewhere in the replacement apartment development, Imperial Court.
The cantilevered lean to was the men’s toilets at the rear of the circle. The square aperture above the lean to was the air extractor outlet which connected to two duct lines running above the auditorium and connected to architecturally decorated circular grills in the ceiling.
The door, to the right atop the metal stairs, was an emergency exit from the rear circle. Just visible on the left are the metal emergency exit stairs from the front of the circle.
On the left side of the building, ground level drops steeply and in two directions. Even the front stalls exit on that side required steps.
The window in the corner at the rear of the entrance block was on the stairs to the circle. The other windows, behind the branch of the tree, were onto the manager’s office.
Having revisited the 28DaysLater photos, I’m not so sure that projection was from the rear of the lower circle. The sight lines were very tight from there, with the soffit of the upper circle being very low at the front. Visibility was unimpeded for seated patrons, but I doubt there was head room for a projection beam to clear the heads of people standing up. Perhaps someone with direct knowledge could clarify this aspect.
The original proprietors, Gannow Pictures Ltd, derived their trading name from the locality being known as Gannow Top. The “Gannow Tunnel” for the Leeds-Liverpool canal passes almost immediately below the site.