Showing 1 - 25 of 162 comments
Photo of Bob Spurs uploaded to relevant section…..
‘Call Me Madam’ 1960’s
Photos uploaded to relevant section.
I always thought it strange that Brennans gave priority over the purpose built and more modern Princes to the Court Cinema, King Street which was a partial reconstruction of a Victorian legitimate theatre. One theory is the larger capacity of the Court but we are speaking of only 136 seats.
In the above photo taken after closure of the Princes can just be discerned the title of the last feature presentation ‘The Mad Room’ (Shelley Winters)……
What on Earth has happened here? Stage boxed in at the wings, tabs gone, apron stage gone…..
I hope that it has been returned to its appearance in the earlier colour photograph.
Six years ago I pointed out (on Flickr.com) that this is the ABC Regal and NOT the Majestic. I see that it is still captioned ‘Majestic Darlington’, which it most certainly is not.
The above theatre was the first ABC I ever visited back in 1967 and,16 years after starting work with ABC/EMI, found myself managing it, albeit, by this time, with a different name on the front of house. I cannot stand the name to this very day but let it suffice that it began with the letter ‘C’………
I was there for just over five years. This was not my longest stay at a theatre, for I was Manager in Newcastle upon Tyne for 8 years prior to this and , believe me, I would not have gone to Darlington had it not been for the Company whose name began with ‘C’ pulling out of that city – something which ABC most certainly never would have done…..
A very well meaning contributor to the site queried one of the photos in the relevant section and I have given a definitive, but respectful, reply.
Two more photos uploaded.
Another photo of the historic theatre uploaded to the photos section…..
I have uploaded a 1950 Pantomime Box Office Card to the photos section.
1950 Box Office Card
Hi Ken. I have the book but it is many years since I actually read it and you are quite right; on page 63 it says :–
“ABC came unstuck when it acquired the Coronet Hartlepool in February 1942 which had nearly been completed. The company began work to finish its construction and started booking the films it would show in a few weeks' time. Existing cinema owners who were being deprived of these films protested to the Northern Branch of the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association that, unlike West Hartlepool (where ABC had its Forum), Hartlepool was badly depressed by the War and had enough cinemas already. Work was halted (it is not clear whether this was done voluntarily by ABC) and the building was requisitioned by the Ministry of Food for the duration of hostilities and named the Comet.”
How I overlooked this I am not sure but I can only ever recollect the Manager & Chief at the Forum refer to the place as the ‘Comet’ and that it was an “albatross around their necks” being key holders. The envelope in the top drawer of the Manager’s desk containing the keys also said ‘Comet’.
I do not suppose that all these decades later the mystery of why the Ministry of Food saw fit to rename the place ‘Comet’ and why, in turn, it was never actually completed will ever be solved……
The Manager I used to relieve had, in the early 1960’s, transferred from the Royalty Hull to take over the Forum from a very well respected ABC man called Vic Moss who transferred to the Savoy Birkenhead. I had to laugh when he told me the story about how he learned about the Comet/Coronet. Apparently, when the District Manager paid his first visit to see the new Manager at the Forum he asked “Have you seen our OTHER ABC Theatre yet, Mr Gillan?” and upon receiving a reply in the negative from the perplexed Albert Gillan, he said “Well, I’ll take you to see it!”
When they arrived at the Comet/Coronet they went inside and he said “Well, Mr Gillan, you’ll be pleased to learn that you will also be responsible for this as well as the Forum!”
I was tempted on occasions to go along to the abandoned building and have a look inside but I had been warned by Albert that the place smelt vile inside and, knowing my luck, I would probably have fallen through the floor or met some other grisly fate, so I did not bother……
I have added a note in the photos section which I hope that the appropriate person at CT will action if they would be so kind.
I suggest that you re caption this ‘Comet Cinema'just in case people do not scroll down to my comment and assume the above to be the ABC Forum!
The theatre with 3 names!
When, in 1968, Essoldo Ltd decided to rename the Hippodrome, Dovecote Street the ‘Essoldo’ (The Cinema, High Street which bore the Company name had been on bingo for four years by this time), they never got around to removing ‘Hippodrome’ from the corner canopy. To compound matters further, when Classic acquired this and the rest of the Essoldo circuit in 1972, it took them several months to change the main signage. They did, however, plaster the word ‘Classic’ everywhere else possible and there were then 3 names to choose from when visiting the Dovecote Street theatre.
When some old hack in the local press suggested that it be known as the ‘Hippessoldic’, Classic suddenly found the money to change the fin sign and remove ‘Hippodrome’ from the canopy.
Essoldo were rather prone to leaving former names on their cinemas, other examples in the North East being Bishop Auckland (Hippodrome) and Gateshead (Empire).
The ABC that never was: the Comet, Hartlepool.
I have uploaded to the relevant section (well, almost) a photo of the ABC Cinema that never was. This was to have been the Comet Cinema but, owing to the outbreak of WW2 it was not fitted out. At the end of hostilities, ABC, for some unfathomable reason, did not commission its completion or opening and for most of its existence it was used as a warehouse.
It can be seen by the photo that it would have been a very fine cinema.
I relieved at the ABC Forum on a few occasions and in the top drawer of the Manager’s desk was a brown envelope duly endorsed “KEYS TO COMET CINEMA”…….
I have uploaded to the relevant section various interior shots of the Ritz including the projection box. This, like most North Eastern ABC’s, was not designed by in house architect, William Riddle Glen but by Percy L Brown & Harding of Newcastle. Other projects assigned to this company were the Regal Darlington (rebuild of C J Phipps' Theatre Royal), Forum Hartlepool, Ritz Wallsend, Savoy South Shields, Globe Stockton (not for ABC but acquired about a year after opening), Wallaw Blyth (for Walter Lawson but acquired by ABC in 1955). The latter two theatres bore many of the hallmarks of the ABC commissioned theatres and one could be forgiven for thinking that they were original circuit houses.
The only Glen theatre in the area was the Ritz Sunderland whilst others,namely the Haymarket Newcastle, Elite Middlesbrough, Coliseum Whitley Bay, Rex Consett, Olympia Newcastle *, Majestic Benwell * and Empire Stockton were acquired properties – not to forget the Essoldo Newcastle, of course!
There was a second theatre built for ABC in Hartlepool by Percy L Brown but, owing to the outbreak of WW2, it was never fitted out. This was the Comet Cinema, an unusual name for an ABC. At the end of hostilities the theatre was never opened and was used as a warehouse for most of its existence; a great pity as it looked from the outside like it would have been a very fine cinema. The keys were in the top drawer of the manager’s desk at the ABC Forum!
I have uploaded a photo of the ABC shortly after renaming showing the gritty prison drama, ‘The Criminal’ in 1961.
I have uploaded a photo of the ABC Ritz taken from a different angle.
I have uploaded a photo of the Essoldo (Empire) seen from a busy Gateshead High Street in the early 1960’s. The ABC Ritz tower can be seen in the distance. Both these cinemas were demolished in the late 1960’s to make way for a new flyover which, in the event, did not touch either site. The Odeon was just forward of the spot from where this photo was taken and the management there hoped that with the ABC and Essoldo out of the way business would increase there – well, it did not work out that way…….
The Essoldo (Empire) seen from a busy Gateshead High Street in the early 1960’s. The ABC Ritz tower can be seen in the distance. Both these cinemas were demolished in the late 1960’s to make way for a new flyover which, in the event, did not touch either site. The Odeon was just forward of the spot from where this photo was taken and the management there hoped that with the ABC and Essoldo out of the way business would increase there – well, it did not work out that way…….
I have uploaded a photo of the side elevation which was not seen from Newgate Street; note the large dressing room block. The building was derelict and ready for demolition when this photo was taken.