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Cliff Richard was interviewed on ‘Look North’, the BBC regional news magazine, this evening re the Globe Stockton’s restoration. Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett (of The Shadows) were actually at the theatre speaking about their own appearances there long ago. Interesting that Cliff said he had only appeared there once in his career, namely in the pantomime, ‘Babes in the Woods’ in the early 1960’s. How many appearances did he make according to the ads I have uploaded to the photos section?……
Photo uploaded: The ABC Globe Stockton backstage in 1962. George Skelton, Manager is at the back with Assistant Managers, John McIntosh and Bill Postgate.
George had invited members of The TownsWomens Guild (it was the Chairman’s birthday) to meet Max Bygraves who was headlining a week’s variety show.
George became a good friend some years later whilst at the Haymarket Newcastle and ABC Darlington after a period as Manager of ABC Chester following the sale of Stockton to next door Debenham’s Department Store. Thankfully, the store group decided, after all, not to extend onto the ABC site and it was subsequently leased short term to the Lipthorpe Brothers (Fiesta Club etc) before being sold to Mecca who operated it as a Bingo Club until they moved to new purpose built premises in 1997.
Now, happily, the building is being restored to its former glory for live presentations but it seems unlikely that it will ever again show films; this will be a great pity as it would be ideal for Premieres of major new releases prior to general release in the multiplexes.
At ABC conventions and meetings up and down the UK necessitating hotel stays, Managers were invariably allocated twin rooms (not so for the great and the good…) and George and I often shared on this basis.
He told me about his experiences (he had started as a reporter with the Grimsby Telegraph after WW2 prior to joining ABC in 1948) particularly in relation to the lavish live shows at Stockton and elsewhere.
The event which caused him the most excitement (of the wrong kind) was when,on November 22nd 1963,The Beatles were headlining a show at the Globe which also included The Vernons Girls and the Kestrels.
This date, of course, goes down in history for a world shaking event, namely the assassination of John F Kennedy. The Beatles, unable to contact Brian Epstein, were unsure whether or not they should appear as events globally were being cancelled as a mark of respect.
Much to George’s great relief the show did go on and one can only imagine the furore which would have resulted when having to deal with fans more upset by The Beatles' non appearance than by the death of the US President….
Omitted from the main overview is the fact that in 1959 ‘Todd AO’ was installed. The huge concave screen and tabs were positioned forward of the original proscenium.
Unusually, the Compton organ at this time was retained even though the orchestra pit and console were now concealed by a carpeted ‘semi reverse’ rake forward of the front stalls crossover. On the occasions when the organ was played a sliding hatch had to be used before the organ lift was operated…….
ABC transferred the festoon curtain (from the old pros) to the ABC Ritz Barnsley and it was used for all performances there whilst the draw house tabs were then only used at the beginning and the end of the day.
2 images uploaded including a very rare one of the old place whilst still open in 1967.
There is a special screening of ‘Rogue One’ at the former Capitol Theatre on 4th May 2017 – so not long in which to obtain tickets:–
If anyone has a copy of ‘ABC News’ from May 1963 there are a number of photos of the proscenium both with house tabs fully closed and with Cliff Richard, Carole Gray, The shadows etc in front of a huge ‘Elstree Studios’ backdrop. I used to have a copy (together with about 200 others, all of which I foolishly parted with).
Perhaps if someone out there still has a copy of this magazine (an ‘in house'glossy monthly)they would scan the relevant pages and upload them.
Ironic that the theatre is preserved on videotape somewhere (as I understand that many of the ABC TV Sunday spectaculars survive) but no one, it seems, bothered to photograph the impressive 60' pros….
4 images uploaded
It looks like the Council have stepped in to save this attractive building from demolition. This is indeed ironic as they usually cannot get rid of former cinemas and theatres fast enough (Odeon, Newcastle and Futurist , Scarborough for example).
Interesting article re potential future use which, if you scroll down far enough, includes a ‘gallery’ of interesting photos relating to the theatre’s past:–
Article in ‘Variety’ re proposed refurbishment:–
I have to laugh at the manifest errors in journalism which are as prevalent ‘across the pond’ as in the UK, it would seem. I refer in particular to “The site houses an original Compton Organ from the silent era, known as “The Duchess……”
As the Odeon opened 10 years after the advent of the ‘talkies’, this reference to the famous Compton is risible, to say the least………
That apart, it is heartening to learn that this iconic theatre is not, after all, to endure the ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ inflicted on other surviving West End venues.
A former Odeon employee told me a few interesting things about the theatre’s de-listing but to name names and to repeat what I was told might prove libellous…….
it was on the local news here but I didn’t know it was on National :–
New link to the famous ‘Beatles Live at the ABC’ :–
It will be interesting to see how long this remains on YouTube but, for those who have not seen it before, there are some good shots of the stage from various angles plus Paul McCartney performs ‘Yesterday’ for the very first time publicly accompanied by the Bob Sharples Orchestra.
Some years ago I pointed out (on Flickr.com) that this is the ABC Regal and NOT the Majestic.
After 16 years of working in Management for ABC/EMI I was appointed Manager there, my previous theatre in Newcastle being one of the many casualties of debt ridden new owners, Cannon……..
Was this the show with ‘The Bachelors’ or Roy Castle? Either way, it would be interesting to see it and I wish I had known it was still at ABC South Shields when I was there, Dave!
Would it be very expensive to have the 35mm filmlet you mention transferred to DVD and uploaded to YouTube?
Thorn-EMI made a mess of Blackpool ABC when, in the tripling process, they isolated the stage (which had a revolve), dressing room block and front stalls all those years ago. It was all reversible, however, just in case the need for large capacities and stage spectaculars should ever return. The acquisition and closure by Odeon and subsequent conversion to ‘The Syndicate’ put paid to that, however.
I have to agree about the screens in older cinemas often being rather on the small side in relation to the auditorium size. Where I worked with ABC (too numerous to list here) the screens were either very large or vice versa with no happy medium.
However, below are links to surviving footage of venues which had very large screens. In the case of Blackpool (ABC as opposed to the Princess where we also had 70mm) the screen is not seen but there are some distance shots of the 60 + feet wide pros which provide an indication of how large the screen was.
Coliseum Cinerama Glasgow:–
ABC New Centre Bristol:–
ABC Blackpool (at 05:24):–
ABC Blackpool (First ever public performance of ‘Yesterday’ – watch out for star line up at the very end):–
My apologies for posting the above on a page devoted to an Odeon but a great deal of cross referencing does occur on the CT site……..
Photo uploaded of The Beatles on stage 22 November 1963.
Needless to say, I have very happy memories of Sunderland Odeon which was one of the most impressive and best equipped venues in the country. It was the favourite cinema of both my Mum and Dad and they remembered going there (Blacks' Regal) in the 1930’s when, as part of the programme, there were stage presentations and recitals at the Compton Organ. I think my Dad said the Musical Director was Arnold Eagle.
For the record, my Dad had been a Chief Projectionist at one time and he was trained by a Gaumont man by the name of Tommy Bell who later worked for Blacks as Co-Chief at the Regal before transferring to the Royal on Bedford Street as the Chief where he was very much at home.
When I used to ask my Dad how the ABC Ritz compared with Blacks Regal he would reply that he would have liked the Ritz more if , at the 11th hour, ABC had not cancelled the Compton organ which it was designed to house (the chambers were above the proscenium).
I always got the impression that, large as the Ritz was at just over 1900 seats, the original project had been scaled down by the time the final plans were drawn up and building work commenced. I mention this as, in towns of similar size with cinemas like the Regal already established, ABC invariably provided a theatre with well in excess of 2000 seats, a fully equipped stage, a restaurant – and an organ! I wonder what went wrong in Sunderland?
I have happy memories of your Dad, John, by the way and our ‘after work pints’ in the likes of ‘The Park Inn’ and ‘The Beehive’……
This is home cinema as it should be:–
Apparently, many items from the ABC are incorporated within.