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It looks a delightful little cinema and I hope that it continues to attract healthy audiences.
The Newcastle Essoldo was the very first cinema in the North East to present ‘Gone With The Wind’ when it was released in the UK in 1940. Several revivals later the film was reprocessed in both 35mm and 70mm widescreen ratios; the Essoldo was one of the initial UK roadshow venues to present it in the latter format.
Just before final closure there was a special one day presentation of the film in the large downstairs auditorium. At this time a 70mm copy was not available and thus we had to be content with a 35mm dolby stereo print.
Do my eyes deceive me or is there a set of red tabs?
I suppose that they could simply be ‘legs’ as tabs seem to be anathema to just about all cinema operators these days……
Curtains – what are they?
Most modern multiplexes do not have them but the Troxy , as a Rank cinema, had several sets and one would have thought that there would be at least one set now that it serves as a multi purpose venue. However, the stage has been levelled and the behind proscenium area meddled with so that may be at least part of the reason for the lack of drapery.
The Wurlitzer from the Trocadero, Elephant & Castle has now been installed which is good news but it would be even better if more traditional features were reinstated such as the stage – and the CURTAINS……….
2 photos uploaded to the relevant section.
I have uploaded a number of ‘roadshow’ photos to the relevant section which I hope readers will find nostalgic………
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…..