Gaumont Southend-on-Sea

4 Southchurch Road,
Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2NE

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Gaumont Southend-on-Sea

Opened as the Hippodrome Theatre on the 8th November 1909 with a seating capacity of 1,750, it was part of the DeFreece Theatre circuit, staging plays and variety performances. Seating was provided on stalls, dress circle and gallery and there were four boxes each side of the procenium. Noted theatre architect Bertie Crewe designed this typical Edwardian theatre.

It was taken over by Gaumont Theatres in March 1928 and they continued to operate it as a cine-variety house until 1933, the films probably projected from a projection box at the rear of the stage, using rear projection. In late 1933 it underwent a adaptation into a full time cinema and a projection box was built at the rear of the gallery (which gave a steeply angled throw to the screen). The two top boxes on each side of the proscenium were removed and were replaced with grilles, otherwise there were no major alterations to Bertie Crewe’s design. It re-opened on 15th January 1934 as the Gaumont Palace Theatre with a reduced seating capacity of 1,588.

From 1937 it was known as the Gaumont and operated successfully through the takeover by the Rank Organisation. A fire destroyed much of the stage in February 1954, but the theatre was saved and re-opened after only a one day closure. After The Rank Organisation re-furbished the more modern Ritz Cinema in 1956 they closed the Gaumont on 20th October 1956 and it was sold for redevelopment.

It was demolished in 1958 and a supermarket was built on the site, currently that building is now used as Walmsleys Furniture Superstore and the HFC Bank.

Contributed by KenRoe
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