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I spent a few years in the 1970’s as A/M at the ABC Huddersfield and the Princess seemed to do very well with the second runs from both the ABC and the Classic.
I only visited the Princess once and it was on a rare Saturday night off. I went to the pay box ready to ‘cough up’ for the price of two circle tickets but the Manager/Lessee, Donald Whitehead (late of the Empire), happened to be duty cashier. Recognising me, he only charged for one, issuing a complimentary ticket for myself. He duly signed the back of it otherwise the ticket checker upstairs would have challenged its presentation on a Saturday.
The second feature, ‘Rio Lobo’ was about half way through as we sat down and when it ended the houselights came up and the festoon curtain was lowered. It was a pretty cinema and, I have to admit, retained nearly all concealed lighting and decorative fittings as opposed to the ABC where, by this time, our notorious cost-cutting Zone Manager had seen to it that very little remained illuminated apart from the main ceiling fittings and the house tabs….
Fully expecting to see the adverts and trailers when the lights dimmed and the festoons opened, I was amazed that they proceeded straight to the main feature,‘Carry On Behind', a first run (unusual for the Princess).
Some time later we acquired one of the Princess’s projectists at the ABC and I mentioned the unusual programme format. He told me that the ads, trailers etc always formed the beginning of the programme there and furthermore,that on the occasions when an epic film with an intermission was presented, the ads and trailers played after the intermission – prior to part two of the feature.
That must have been the most unusual procedure of any cinema anywhere – unless anyone knows of anything even odder still, that is……
I remember York was converted in 1972 around the time of the many ‘drop wall’ Rank venues.
Ironically, in my native North East, the first such conversion was in my home town of Bishop Auckland which must have been the very smallest province where Rank were represented .
I knew the Manager, Walter Aylen, very well and he expressed his amazement that York was converted in this manner. He did say that it was good to have an 880 seat Screen 1 (that was the capacity he stated) but that they could simply have retained the front stalls seating as an ‘overflow’ area.
I dare say that Rank had a good reason for converting York (and Chester) as they did. Perhaps extra staff would have had to be deployed in the front stalls whereas the stadium plan could be served by the normal strength?
Certainly, it would have been better for the front stalls to have been retained given what Everyman now propose to do in the main auditorium. I am sure that under these circumstances they would have done a Muswell Hill type restoration with NO FLOATING SCREEN…..
I have to admit that I have not read the plans, davepring,but ,given the sightline issue, the floating screen will, accordingly, not have to be any lower than the existing screen.
At least the new organisation want to make a feature of the proscenium via the floating screen being backlit but, yet again, we are back to the absence of screen tabs…..
Very sad that a cinema of this calibre has been sacrificed for yet another soulless multiplex…….
As you say, RichieA70, Odeon Barnet’s screen was brought forward and raised when Rank increased the number of screens from three to five. Prior to then, of course, it had been a standard ‘drop wall’ with the original proscenium housing the main screen.
In the case of Odeon York the original proscenium remains intact for, whilst not a ‘drop wall’ conversion, the circle stepping was continued to almost the orchestra rail thereby creating a very nice stadium auditorium.
The reversal of the original scheme, which (I understand) included the retention of the proscenium and the fitting of quality house tabs, in favour of a ‘floating screen’ is indeed lamentable………
I assume that the intention is to provide a larger sheet size but, as the existing proscenium is very wide, it is a great shame to compromise the integrity of the cinema in this manner.
I hope that Everyman have a change of heart and use Muswell Hill (which looks splendid) as the ‘York Model’ as opposed to the ‘Barnet Formula’……
Three links to footage re the restoration:–
The first includes a clip of the famous ‘bullion carrying’ velvet house tabs opening. It does not look like these are going to be replicated,sadly…….
So why the change of heart regarding the opulent stage drapes and appropriate lighting? I thought that Everyman were enthusiastic about such features in their traditional venues as in the case of Muswell Hill and Esher.
Perhaps some ‘whiz kid’ has joined Everyman and the two aforementioned theatres will receive the ‘floating screen’ look also.
I detest the damned things; they are just about acceptable in mini auditoria – but in the Odeon York main auditorium?……..
What a delightful little cinema!
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……..