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The ‘block’ design signage which once comprised the name ‘Essoldo’ (and briefly ‘Classic’) was taken down by ABC when they acquired the building at an exorbitant cost in 1974 – it was said that this was financed by their sale of the huge ABC Stockton.
The standard ABC ‘lozenges’ replaced the old sign whilst the blocks were stored in the intake room (of all places) for a long time until , one day, some ABC ‘bright spark’ said “You know what? These blocks , seven of them, could be adapted to read A B C 1 & 2 – with EMI occupying the lowest block!”
Brilliant! More money wasted by that company who could have worked that one out in the first place……
The bargain basement ‘Cannon’ outfit , however, were much, much, more inept. They saw fit to remove the three blocks which said ‘ABC’ and erected their horrible standard ‘Cannon’ sign leaving ‘1 & 2’ below and detaching the lowest block. They obviously did not have the intelligence to simply adapt the 7 blocks to read ‘Cannon'plus their corporate logo (such as it was) within the lowest block………
2 photos uploaded.
Various images uploaded.
Something never mentioned about the Haymarket: there was a very large restaurant on the first floor, the windows of which can be seen on all photos of the Front of House. Access was via large glass doors from the Dress Circle foyer.
It was the best cinema restaurant in Newcastle in terms of size and position with a panoramic vista of the busy Haymarket and the top of Northumberland Street.
It was used for V.I.P./Press Receptions until Newcastle University acquired it (as part of their Archaeology Dept) after when receptions were held in the offices/rear circle foyer area. If it was a particularly large function a nearby hotel suite would be hired.
I had a photograph of Tony Hancock with G.M, C D E Parkin in the restaurant for the launch of either ‘The Rebel’ or ‘The Punch and Judy Man’ and – guess what – I have mislaid it (like many others)….
If and when I locate it I shall upload it to the usual section.
Photo uploaded of a busy King Street in the 1950’s. The Odeon, whilst only having a small Front of House, stands out owing to the very effective signage of that Company.
I have uploaded what is probably the best ever exterior shot of the ABC RITZ Gateshead. The only slight let – down is the visible area where a 32 sheet frame had once been attached to the main elevation.
Oops….. I meant 32 sheet!
Please see the photo of the closed building with ‘The Anniversary’ in the quad frame. The only other explanation is that on the last night, after the publicity accessories were removed, someone placed ‘The Anniversary’ quad in the frame but I cannot imagine why………
One of the photos uploaded is of Gracie Fields on the roof from where she is captivating the thousands of people who have turned out for the occasion.
Gateshead High Street has probably neither before nor since seen crowds of this magnitude – and it most certainly never will again…..
Vintage photo uploaded of the Jesmond showing ‘The Big Country’
1964 photo uploaded of this, the largest of South Shields' cinemas, showing ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ in 1964
From the Chester-le-Street Heritage Group :–
From the Chester – le – Street Heritage Group:–
My apologies. I knew of Alan Smith (via Walter Aylen of Bishop Auckland Odeon and Creswell Watson of Shildon Essoldo where he had worked as a projectionist prior to Bishop Auckland).
He did indeed die tragically in Bournemouth (a drowning incident). Apologies to Ken Close also whom I knew very well at Halifax who had worked at Bishop Auckland with Walter Aylen. The two did indeed look very similar!
The Essoldo closed the very same day that the company closed their very large Newcastle upon Tyne theatre for its expensive twinning.
Essoldo intended to open a brand new cinema on part of the site in partnership with one of the large supermarket chains. The proposed 500 seat luxury cinema would have occupied the first floor with the supermarket being at ground level. I do not know what scuppered these plans but they did not materialise.
In common with many cinemas, the Front of House of the Essoldo was some distance away from the theatre itself (and,in this case,the ballroom) with a long walkway leading to the foyer. In 1972 this was demolished leaving the cinema and ballroom visible from Front Street for the very first time.
When Classic Cinemas acquired the Essoldo chain in 1972 the Chester Le Street cinema was part of the deal – as was the Capitol in nearby Low Fell which had been operating as a bingo hall since 1967. Essoldo had intended to twin this venue in a similar manner to Newcastle although Classic went ahead with a triple conversion.
Classic had various plans to reopen the Chester le Street cinema in one form or another but none came to fruition. This was a pity as there was potential for a cinema in the town and the old Essoldo itself was still quite busy at the time of its closure.
The 2nd April 1972 was the day that Classic Cinemas acquired the Essoldo circuit. The Capitol was part of this deal as was the nearby closed Chester Le Street Essoldo both of which were to return to films. The Low Fell cinema was to be twinned in a similar manner to their flagship Newcastle venue although Classic revised these plans and proceeded with a triple conversion which, as stated, opened to the public on 14th April 1973. Nothing came of the plans for Chester Le Street.
Two images uploaded
Oops….. as I was uploading the photos I ‘dropped a clanger’ with the above which was taken in 1971 when the Odeon still had four years remaining as a cinema. There is a new multiplex in Gateshead now not far from this site but it does not begin to compare with the choice of the three large cinemas once on the High Street, namely the ABC Ritz, the Essoldo and , of course, the Black’s Regal/Odeon.
I should have said 26th December 1967
Photo uploaded of the closed building with ‘The Anniversary’ quad poster still in the frame…………
Two images uploaded.
I remember passing the Ritz when its demolition was at an advanced stage and there were quads for ‘The Anniversary’ (Bette Davis) in the frames on the Front of House ; I therefore always assumed that it was the last feature shown.
The very last Manager at the Ritz was a lovely chap by the name of Jack Vasey who transferred to the ABC (Savoy) South Shields from here. He always said that the South Shields theatre , whilst smaller, reminded him very much of Gateshead Ritz.
The South Shields venue was to become my first full managererial appointment for ABC and the staff without exception all spoke in glowing terms of Mr Vasey.