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Article about the Odeon and Regal, Halifax. According to this the opening capacity of the Regal was 1938 with the circle seating 688 and not 668. I did wonder how, after slightly larger seats were installed in the circle in 1974, it somehow (with 670 seats) managed to accommodate 2 more people than in 1938…….
Three external shots have been uploaded to the relevant section. Two date back to the early 1960’s shortly after the Regal name was dropped in favour of the corporate ‘A B C’ . This happened across the circuit except where the company had more than one venue in a town or city when the original name(s) would be retained at the other cinema(s). There were exceptions where both main theatres would be renamed ABC and differentiated by street name, for example the ABC’s George Street and Magdalen Street, Oxford.
The very last Manager of the ABC is a good friend who joined ABC about four or five years after I did in the early 1970’s. It is a coincidence that the above should appear now as he and his wife are staying with me for a few days from tomorrow; I am sure that he will be fascinated to see the YouTube interview of the interesting former projectionist who worked at the Regal in its glory days.
The Halifax ABC was always a favourite of mine and, whilst not the largest example (they ranged from 1500 – 3000 seats), it was certainly one of W R Glen’s finer buildings and I hope that some good use will be found for it.
Ironically, it was closed by former rival company, Odeon who said that the place did not fit comfortably in their portfolio of cinemas. I cannot think why as they re-branded venues which were far inferior to the Halifax ABC Regal and, whilst Halifax’s original Odeon was a lovely cinema, the Regal had the edge both architecturally and by location.
I understand that this building is soon to be demolished to make way for student accommodation for Durham University. 600 seats have been donated to Beamish Open Air Museum for installation in the Grand Cinema Ryhope which is to be transplanted there :–
I believe that the lovely stained glass arched window within the deceptively small Front Of House of the Palladium (typical of many cinemas of the period which had small entrances leading to capacious auditioria) is to be restored and retained together with the rest of the facade.
In the 1960’s, after a very expensive modernisation, the stained glass window was the main feature of a large luxurious cocktail bar; it was adorned by blue velvet curtains matching the Royal Blue Axminster laid throughout the building.
Business dwindled at the Palladium following the rerouting of traffic in the late 1960’s (Claypath had been an important thoroughfare prior to this) leaving most business to the Essoldo, North Road, which, whilst very little was spent on it for years, latterly enjoyed a better location and Booking Policy.
The projectors, by the way, whilst donated by the University, are not from the Palladium which had Kalee 19’s and they remain in situ in that now very decaying building.
My good friend, Bill Mather, has photos of the above venue which , at some stage, he hopes to upload to accompany this article. The Ritz/Fairworld formed part of the circuit of which Bill was the CEO and he was responsible for its expensive twinning in 1979. Friends who visited this cinema regularly used to tell me how high the standards of presentation were here.
Bill’s very long and distinguished career in the industry commenced at the Grand Ryhope in the 1950’s, soon to be rebuilt at Beamish – see separate article re this exciting development.
Great news! This 102 year old building is to be dismantled, brick by brick, and rebuilt as the centrepiece of a ‘new’ 1950’s town at the wonderful Beamish Open Air Museum, close to where I live. 600 good condition seats from the long defunct 1087 seat Palladium Cinema, Durham City (one of the ‘poshest’ cinemas in the North East at one time) have been kindly donated by Durham University as have 2 projectors from the same source (presumably, in the name of authenticity, Kalee 8’s, which the Grand had until Bingo took over in the 1960’s).
Fascinating articles below :–
The return to cinema use lasted for less than a year. It reopened in October 1970 with the United Artists double bill, ‘For A Few Dollars More’ and ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ and the cinema opened initially only on Thursday – Sunday. After a couple or so months it started operating 7 days per week which suggested to me, at least, that the returns must have been quite healthy. Obviously, such was not the case as The Avenue closed for the very last time at the end of the Summer holidays in 1971 following a two week run of ‘The Sound Of Music’.
Photo uploaded of The Avenue in happier days; I believe that it was taken on Coronation Day, 1953….
Photo of Newgate Street uploaded. If magnified Stan Laurel’s father’s theatre, the Eden, can be seen on the left and the Kings almost directly opposite on the right. Note the length of both buildings, in particular the Kings……
Photo of Newgate Street uploaded. If magnified Stan Laurel’s father’s theatre, the Eden can be seen on the left and the Kings almost directly opposite on the right. Note the length of both buildings, in particular the Kings……
Photo of Front Of House uploaded; I guess that it was taken in the 1930’s.
Whilst awaiting other photos of this once highly prestigious venue which I shall in turn upload, I did happen to come across a certain novelty pic which I have added to the relevant section here.
I was not at the Newcastle ABC on its last day of operation as I had foolishly already transferred to Darlington and that shower, Cannon, saw to it that I was unable to attend the farewell party held at Newcastle on the final day of operation.
The theatre staff obviously held Cannon in as high esteem as I did and they baked a cake replete with logo to demonstrate this admiration……..
I was informed that during the afternoon of the very last day of operation a Company Executive (whose name I shall not mention but he was the one behind the plot to stop me from attending the ‘send off’), paid a visit and was shown the item which was to be the centerpiece of the evening buffet and,like Queen Victoria, he was not amused………
One would have thought that perhaps he may have been, being an ex ABC person, but as we were to find out, those ABC executives who survived the initial cull following the ‘big bang, were to become more ‘Cannonised’ than that outfit’s original personnel. Rather like the film exhibitors’ equivalent of Catholic Converts, I always considered ……………
Original Odeon Front Of House taken in 1949 whilst presenting ‘Down To The Sea In Ships’. As with most cinema exteriors (in fact most buildings) during the post war austerity period it would appear that the combination of the war years and the fossil fuel economy have taken their toll……
Regal pic uploaded to photos section.
Photo uploaded of Gerald Shaw at the Compton organ; he was later to become the resident organist of the Odeon Leicester Square.
Various interior shots have been uploaded to the ‘photos’ section.
Two shots of the Front Stalls uploaded. This cinema seemed to be ‘jinxed’ going by what the ‘old timers’ of ABC used to tell me eg the boiler house blowing up and the roof blowing off (Consett is on top of a very high hill).
Anyway, it burned down in 1966 and the story goes that the Manager, George Clark, rang ABC’s Managing Director, Jack Goodlatte in the middle of the night to tell him the bad news only to be asked the question, “Has it burned RIGHT down, Mr Clark?” and, upon being advised that such was the case, the MD was overjoyed…..
This theatre was never equipped to show Cinerama (or Todd AO/70mm) and the nearest venue to present films in 70mm format was the ABC (former Elite) Middlesbough; this was the case from its modernisation in 1964 until tripling in 1974 when the large screen and the 70mm equipment were removed. The new Odeon Stockton was also thus equipped from its opening in 1968 until closure in 1981.
The nearest Cinerama was the Queens Newcastle although the ‘3 strip’ format lasted only very briefly before 70mm was adopted and blown up onto the Cinerama screen. Other 70mm venues were the Essoldo Newcastle (later ABC) and the Pavilion Newcastle which generally played the product deemed either not good enough for the Queens or which the latter was unable to play owing to long term commitments as was the case with ‘The Sound Of Music’ which played there for nearly three years.
Re this venue an opening photo of the (now disused) Front Stalls has been uploaded.
I often wondered what this place looked like whilst still a cinema and I have to say that its Front Of House was very pleasant according to this photo. Thank you to the person who has uploaded it!
Photo of ABC 1 from front crossover uploaded.The gold seats had just been reupholstered in red and standard ABC ‘Calendar'carpet laid when this was taken. In the name of 'hygiene’ no longer was there deep pile Axminster between the rows but red lino. Loads of legroom still though!
3 photos of the auditorium have been uploaded. Sadly, these were taken in the cleaners lights the day following closure and the theatre looks far from at its best as a consequence……
I have read various comments about this theatre over the years and they often allude to it being not particularly large whilst having no type of stereophonic sound. The latter observation is certainly true but this often applied to Circuit Houses particularly where they had Roadshow or other venues elsewhere in a city where 70mm and 6 track magnetic stereo were promoted features. So, in defence of the old Haymarket, I would say the following……….
The promoters of the original 1280 capacity cinema (ABC later extended the building and increased the capacity to 2000) claimed that it could easily have seated 1700 and this I am prepared to believe as the stepping in the Dress Circle (10 rows) was very generous and the legroom was better than that in the Royal Circle seating sections of both the Paramount/Odeon and Essoldo cinemas. The Rear Circle, which was added by ABC and consisted of a further 10 rows, was less generously spaced as was invariably the case in 1930’s cinemas.
The ABC Haymarket was made a compulsory purchase by neighbouring Newcastle University in the 1950’s and leased back to ABC always on short term leaseholds.
ABC were not prepared to lavish large capital investments in the rather old fashioned building with the ‘Sword of Damocles’ ever present.
When Douglas Parkin transferred to the Haymarket Newcastle as Manager from the Ritz Wigan in 1960 , Associated British Cinemas told him that he would not be there for long as there were plans to build a new luxury stadium style cinema in the city (rather like ABC Sheffield) to where he and the staff would transfer; this did not come to fruition.
The old Haymarket carried on for years on this basis although it always took a fortune at the box office and ranked as one of the biggest moneymakers in the UK and Film Distributors vied to play their latest releases there. In its heyday this was the house which played all MGM, Warner Bros and ABPC’s (Associated British Picture Corporation based at Elstree Studios and the Film Production arm of ABC) top films.
By 1974 Newcastle University were becoming even more intransigent with the terms of the cinema’s lease and ABC were operating on ‘six month permits’ – a situation which was most unsatisfactory. At this time Classic Cinemas, who operated the former Essoldo Westgate Road, found themselves in dire financial difficulties and offered the Westgate Road luxury twin cinema to ABC who purchased it.
As soon as Newcastle University learned about ABC’s now secure foothold in the city they ‘climbed down’ and offered ABC a five year lease on the Haymarket which ABC accepted and they then fully refurbished the old cinema and ran it in conjunction with Westgate Road ; the lease was subsequently renewed for a further five years during which period it was still well maintained.
In order of seating capacity Newcastle cinemas ranked as follows:–
1) Odeon 2602
2) Essoldo 2109
3) Haymarket 2002
4) Gaumont 1870
5) Pavilion 1585
6) Queens 1403
7) Stoll 1370
8) Olympia 1100
9) Gaiety 875
11) Tatler 437
12) Bijou News Theatre (now the Tyneside) 412
The above capacities are those of each venue at its largest capacity wise; they were all modified over the years and most notably reductions occurred when CinemaScope was introduced and seats were removed from the front stalls owing to the greater screen width encroaching on the original sight lines.
So the Haymarket at 2000 plus seats was hardly small, was it?
The cinemas listed are those in the city centre as opposed to the suburbs such as Byker , Gosforth and Jesmond – however the Haymarket was still larger than any venues in those locations.
The source of the seating capacities is ‘Cinemas Of Newcastle’ by Frank Manders published by Newcastle City Libraries. It is worth noting that in cases like the Stoll and Pavilion , even more drastic seating losses occurred following closures of upper circles (the ‘Gods’)….
Here is what the planned replacement of the Haymarket Theatre would have looked like in the early 1960’s:–
Dixon Scott, the entrepreneur responsible for the Haymarket (in its original form), the Bijou News Theatre (now the Tyneside), the Princes North Shields (later Gaumont and subsequently Odeon)and, I believe, the Regal Jarrow, was the great uncle of director brothers Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.
Two more ‘Roadshow’ photos uploaded – more to follow…..