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The suggestion by Terry that the date of the 1927 photo is incorrect was also my first thought, however the problem with that is that Belvedere House is visible on the photo and that is believed to date from 1926 – the date is cut into the stonework. In an attempt to resolve this, I have been looking at old trade directories and the local newspaper, but without really resolving the issue, although the trade directories do suggest that Belvedere House is actually earlier than 1926. I have, however been able to find out a bit more about the history of the Coliseum. It was opened on 14 May 1910 as a theatre, but at some time, possibly May 1912, it became the Coliseum Grand Cinema. In those early days, the entrance was in the Royal Arcade, (a somewhat pretentious name for what was really a passage running between Whitley Road and neighbouring York Road) however in June 1913, a new more spacious entrance foyer was opened at 250 Whitley Road which had previously been a shop. It was commandeered by the military during the war and reopened as the New Coliseum on 16 February 1920.
Looking at the photos of this cinema, I realise that there is a query over the one dated 1927. In Frank Manders' book on North Tyneside Cinemas, there is a photo reproduced which is captioned as dating from the opening of the New Coliseum, which was 1920. However while that matches the present appearance of the façade fairly well, it does not match the appearance in the 1927 photo, which more closely resembles it’s earlier appearance as a theatre. This raises the question as to when the white façade was added. I had assumed that it was from the 1920 reconstruction, but it must have been added later. Did ABC when they took it over modernise it’s appearance? Or had it been done earlier? It would be interesting to know more about this.
A somewhat belated response to N Thompson, Where Eagles Dare was shown from 2 August 1970 for two weeks. As it happens, I also saw Where Eagles Dare here.
The Carlton opened on Thursday 17th January 1935 (not 1936), the first film being Evergreen starring Jessie Matthews. There is, however, a slight doubt as to the closing date. Frank Manders in the Cinemas of North Tyneside gives the date as 11th September 1976, the last film being It Shouldn’t happen to a vet. I have checked in the Shields News, and although that does appear to be the last film, it was advertised as being shown a week earlier finishing on the 4th September with no further adverts appearing. I have cross-checked with the Newcastle Evening Chronicle where the last advert appeared on the 4th September, so unless anybody knows different, then I would suggest that the date that the Carlton closed was 4th September 1976.
I first began making occasional visits to the Carlton in the mid-sixties. Programmes at that time usually ran for six days and would be shown shortly after neighbouring North Shields. The cinema tended to go for more upmarket fare, horror films being rarely show. One of the first films that I recall seeing there was a revival of Jane Eyre starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine. My impression was that the Carlton was a well run cinema, although the architect had a bit of a problem squeezing everything into the limited space resulting in a slightly cramped effect.
One memory that I have of the Carlton was that at the end of the show, the besuited manager would stand in the entrance thanking patrona and wishing them goodnight, not something that I can recall experiencing at circuit cinemas.
I am not sure that the date of 1963 for closure is correct. It was still advertising films in 1967. The last date that I can find is 23rd August 1967 although that doesn’t mean that it closed then. It seems to have been showing films for three or four nights a week, so perhaps 1963 was when it went over to bingo part-time.
Was this the last Rank cinema to receive the “Gaumont” name? By that time, Rank on the mainland was phasing out the Gaumont name, but there was a separate Odeon company in Northern Ireland which presumably had their own way of doing things
Does anyone know if anything has been written about Rank’s activities in Northern Ireland?
On Monday 23rd July 2018, the Spanish City buildings, after being closed for a considerable period of time for refurbishment, were reopened. It has now been converted into a restaurant and bar complex. I have uploaded a couple of photos I have taken to show it as it is now, and where the cinema used to be.
I have found in the Norwood News dated 25th October 1935 that the Regent has re-opened under new management, the new proprietors being Hammer Entertainments Ltd. of Shepherds Bush. I recall reading that Hammer Films were formed in 1935 by Will Hinds who performed in the music hall under the name of Will Hammer, so it seems reasonable to suppose that he is the William Hinds mentioned above.
Theatre One opened as twin cinemas on 27th December 1971. The opening films were “Scrooge” starring Albert Finney in Cine One and “The Tales of Beatrix Potter” in Cine Two.
The previous Friday, the Coventry Evening Telegraph published an adverting feature on the new cinemas with adverts from various distributors. In the accompanying article, there is an interesting comment that when the Alexandra was reconstructed as Theatre One, the cinema had obtained from the Monopolies Commission a ruling that it should receive 12 ½ % of ABC and Rank releases. Apparently it was the first independent cinema in the country to be given a share of the major circuit releases.
A question that arises is when did the Empire change it’s name to ABC. Allen Eyles in the ABC of ABC and Brian Hornsey in his booklet on Coventry cinemas both state that it changed to ABC but neither give a date. In an effort to pin this down more precisely, I have looked through local newspapers, and I found that it appears to never have changed it’s name. It advertised as the Empire (or more exactly as the ABC Empire) right up to closure.
The Alexandra closed on Saturday 22nd November 1969. It reopened as Theatre One on Saturday28th March 1970, the opening film being The Reckoning starring Nicol Williamson.
It re-opened as the Classic on 28th January 1940.
I notice that there was also a Newcine in Glasgow. This was an unusual name for a cinema. Does anyone know if there was any connection between them?
Further to my previous comment, the opening date of the Majestic was 8th August 1955.
I have a copy of a newspaper advertising feature for the opening of this cinema in which it states that it was fitted with a 40 foot wide cinemasope screen and equipped with four track stereo sound.
Some further details from this feature. It was built in a stadium style similar to the Regent Middlesbrough. Upholstery on the seats and the carpets were deep claret red, which was repeated on each side of the proscenium. Beige and elfin green formed the colour scheme for the ceiling and champagne curtains were appliqued in elfin green and claret.
The opening film was Carmen Jones.
Although it is stated here that the Pavilion was taken back by Thomas Thompson in 1935, it was still advertising as a Gaumont cinema well after that date. For instance in December 1940, which is the latest date that I have been able to look at for the moment, it was included in the Gaumont block advert along with the Gaumont and Hippodrome. It seems to have been the practise for the Gaumont to play the circuit release, the Hippodrome played alternative programmes, while the Pavilion played split weeks of programmes that had already been shown in Middlesbrough, rather like the Electric York.
A minor correction – the title of the last film to be shown was “Woman Tamer”, a 1935 film starring George Raft and Joan Bennett, which played in a double-bill with the Will Hay film “Oh Mr. Porter”.
The Prince’s was always a full-time cinema. As mentioned, it opened on 7 October 1929, the opening film being “Movietone Follies”. The weekly programmes for the rest of the month being “The Trial of Mary Dugan”, “The Singing Fool”, and “Broadway Melody”. When Gaumont acquired the Princes, it then took over the Gaumont release from their existing cinema, The Boro which then took alternative programmes. An oddity of programming in the thirties and forties was that the main feature would play twice in the evening and also once in the afternoon supported for the afternoon only by a revival of an older film. I have not come across this elsewhere – other northeast Gaumont cinemas played conventional double bills.
The stage facilities saw very occsional use in the fifties and sixties when the theatre was hired out to the local Amateur Operatic Society, which despite the name staged musicals.
I have looked at the programmes for this cinema over it’s last few months, and as far as I can see, does not seem to have shown any cinemascope pictures, so had probably not been so equipped. It closed on 17th November 1956.
Was this originally a Union Cinema? There is a book about Sunderland cinemas, “The Dream Palaces of Sunderland” which states that it was built for Union Cinemas, and yet it is illustrated with a photo obviously taken when it opened, as the film that is being advertised is the first film to be shown, “Swing Time”, and above the canopy can be clearly seen two ABC triangles. The author also expresses surprise that it was originally to be called the Savoy, indeed surprising if it was a Union cinema, as they standardised on the Ritz name, but not at all surprising if it was an ABC cinema.
The location given is incorrect. It was actually situated at the junction of Cauldwell Lane and Seatonville Road.
When it reopened in January 1972, it was with the Classic name, even though Classic did not take over the Essoldo circuit until April, and it was fitted with very comfortable armchair seats, which were staggered so as to give the best possible view of the screen. It was a very pleasant place to watch films. The first film to be shown was “Waterloo”. Programmes tended to be more upmarket than at the Classic, Whitley Bay about a mile away. I recall seeing “Death in Venice” here. When the second cinema was opened, the size of the main auditorium was slightly reduced, but the new cinema 2 was a lot less satisfactory being long and narrow, and also very tall, as it retained the original high ceiling.
My father lived in North Shields as a boy and he thought that the Albion was the best cinema in the town. Although the Princes was a later and larger cinema, he did not rate it as highly. The Albion was always an independent cinema, although for many years, it usually played the same program as the ABC New Coliseum, Whitley Bay, and after that closed, the ABC, South Shields. Get Carter (the original version with Michael Caine) was a huge success here, running for four weeks.
Following the demolition of the auditorium, a new customer service centre for North Tyneside Council, including a new library for the town, has been constructed on the site.
I think that the date for conversion by Essoldo to a cinema was 1957, not 1956. The Empire appears to have operated as a full-time cinema for much of the thirties, with occasional weeks of variety. Films ceased, and it reverted to full-time variety from 5th September 1938.
The introduction of bingo in May 1966 was part-time and it continued to show films on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays into the 70s. Unfortunately, I have been unable to look at newspaper beyond 1970, so I don’t know how long this continued for.