Dreamland Cinema

Marine Terrace,
Margate, CT9 1LX

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Dreamland Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built on the the site of the 900 seat Dreamland Variety Theatre of 1923, which was later re-named Dreamland Cinema. It was adjacent to the massive Dreamland Amusement Park on Marine Terrace located on the sea front.

The new Dreamland Cinema opened on 22nd March 1935 with Greta Garbo in “The Painted Veil”. Architect’s Julian Rudolph Leathart & W.F. Granger came together for the final time (they mutually disolved their partnership after Dreamland was completed). The specactacular frontage of the cinema was the first of its kind in Britain, having a huge fin tower which gives the building prominance from a great distance along the shore line. There was a large cafe which had windows giving a view out to sea. Additional facilities included bars and a ballroom.

Inside the auditorium seating was provided for 1,328 in the stalls and 722 in the balcony. The interior design was by John Bird-Iles (son of the owner of the complex) and sculpures of sea nymphs set into recesses each side of the auditorium were the work of Eric Aumonier. The cinema had a fully equipped stage and the Compton-Noterman 4Manual/19Rank theatre organ with illuminated console and a grand piano attached which was opened by Lewis Gerard.

The cinema was closed from 1940 due to the war and didn’t re-open until 1st July 1946. The Dreamland Cinema was tripled and re-opened on 22nd April 1973 with two cinemas in the former balcony which seated 378 and 376. The former stalls area became a live theatre using the full facilities of the stage. However the live theatre was not a success and closed on 11th January 1975 and was converted into a bingo hall.

A third screen seating 60 persons and using video projection was created in what had previously been the balcony bar area. This opened on 10th May 1981 and continued until closing in 1993 when the Dutch firm Bembom Brothers took over the running of the cinema and amusement park.

It remained open with bingo in the former stalls, where the Compton organ was still occasionally used for concerts. The two cinemas remained open in the former circle area and were operated by the small Independent chain Reeltime Cinemas. Sadly they were closed on 1st November 2007 following closure of the bingo club operation in the former stalls area earlier in the year.

Restoration of the exterior was begun in February 2011, and repairs to the building began in earnest in June 2011.

In 1992, Dreamland Cinema was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage. In early May 2008, the building was up-graded to Grade II* Listed.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 29, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Some information about the Compton-Noterman organ and a couple of small photographs here:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 29, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Sorry about the link above not working. Here is a dramatic shot of Marine Terrace, with the huge fin tower of the Dreamland Cinema standing out in the background:
View link

Ian on February 16, 2007 at 10:24 pm

And a closer shot of the facade from 1989:–

View link

tates on November 10, 2007 at 6:24 pm

Sad, awful, the end of an era, what more can we say!
How dare they close our Cinema, heartbreaking for me and the rest of the staff. We had to compose ourselves on our final night and try and look happy for our final audience who had come to share an event so special that we will all never forget. It was a truly fantastic place to work, our hearts are still there!

AdoraKiaOra on May 23, 2008 at 8:17 am

How very, very sad. The black and white photo in the BBC report shows it as stunning place when it first opened.

smoothie on May 31, 2008 at 12:52 am

Fear not as far as our memories are concerned. The Royal Institute of British Architects has a superb collection of past photos.

Just go to www.ribapix.com

Very simply type in “Dreamland” in the ‘quicksearch’ box on the left.

james2003 on October 3, 2008 at 7:46 am

Yet another traditional cinema which has lost out to the onslaught of the multiplex – I wonder who will be next?

james2003 on March 11, 2010 at 7:35 am

Reeltime Cinemas subsequently went into administration. However, cinema fans will be pleased to know that two of the cinemas in this part of south-east England, which were managed by that company have survived. They are;

  1. The Carlton – Westgate-On-Sea
  2. Kavanagh – Herne Bay

Sadly the New Century Cinema at Sittingbourne closed along with the Dreamland.

Buffer on February 9, 2014 at 8:23 am

Interior shows the organ (now silent, 2014) being played in May, 1998.

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