Plaza Cinema

North Road, Gabalfa,
Cardiff, CF14

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Plaza Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Plaza Cinema opened on 12th March 1928 with Norma Talmadge in “Camille”. Initially an independent cinema, it was later taken over by the Cardiff Cinema Circuit, then by the Jackson Withers chain and finally by the Rank Organisation in 1976. Rank closed it on 17th October 1981 with Sigourney Weaver in “Alien” and Jamie Lee Curtis in “The Fog”.

I remember going to the Plaza Cinema as a child with my grandmother – it always seemed huge to me…. a large lobby stretch across the front of the building and old pictures of movie stars lined the walls up the stairs to the circle. From memory the auditorium was fairly plain however, it was a great place to see a movie except for the fact that it was right infront of a busy road so the distant rumble of traffic could always be heard in the background! It was demolished about 10 years ago – a block of flats now stands on the site.

Contributed by James Ruttley, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

amscwl
amscwl on January 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Some photos of the plaza can be found here (courtesy of Cardiff Central Library).

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edithapearce
edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 7:06 pm

During the 1960s the Plaza Cinema in North Road, Cardiff was managed by Dai John. He was considered to be the best manager on the Jackson Withers circuit and the Plaza was the flagship cinema. He later became the Cardiff area supervisor.

As built the Plaza had a very narrow projection box that made working difficult. Its equipment consisted of a mixture of Peerless Magna Arcs and Westar heads. The sound system was maintained by Western Electric , their engineer Charlie Crane visited monthly to make adjustments.

edithapearce
edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Whilst the box was considered difficult to operate by projectionists, at least it was well ventilated. The box having access to a balcony high above the main entrance.

Originally the Plaza’s external advertising were two multi quad panels let into the front wall either side of the entrance. Dai John was not happy about this so he had two new wood and steel panels constructed forwards at right angle to the entrance that could more easily be seen by passing motorists. These attractive white bordered panels had trellis type edges.

edithapearce
edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

The Plaza had a close relationship with a number of shops nearby. As well as running Pearl, Dean and Younger advertisments, it also showed a number of professionally produced (and inhouse made) slides promoting the neighbouring shops.

The Plaza always played very up to date music during its breaks. These were supplied by Cadennes record shop next door. The deal was one free record a week in exchange for showing two slide adverts per day.Woe betide the relief projectionist who forgot the Cadenne’s slide.

geoffjc
geoffjc on March 29, 2009 at 9:57 am

Editha’s personal recollections of cinemas in South Wales are greatly appreciated by contributors to this site who have to rely on memories as paying patrons and archive research.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 30, 2010 at 5:54 am

The Plaza Cinema, photographed in 1981:
View link

edithapearce
edithapearce on February 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

The Plaza drew many of its patrons from areas well away from the cinema. This being mainly due to the fact that the hall lay very close to a major bus route intersection linking north Cardiff, Llandaff and Cathays. The hall had a car park on its south side plus there was also more than adequate on street parking in North Road. All that changed circa 1968 when the Western Avenue / North Road junction was modified to include a flyover and a bypass. Parking in North Road became impossible and the Plaza car park was too small to cater for (by then) a larger number of car owning patrons.This had a severe effect on the Plaza’s patronage as car owning patrons abandoned the cinema in droves.

Dru
Dru on August 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I used to go to the Plaza as a Child, walk from Gabalfa to the Cinema almost every Saturday morning for Champion the Wonder Horse, the Lone Ranger etc. Last Film I saw there was Querrel De Brest – think that was the last film shown :–( Please correct me if I am wrong

HJHill
HJHill on August 7, 2012 at 3:22 am

Can anyone say where the projection room was located?

Howard Williams, the architect, had a penchant for locating the projection room deep inside the wedge of the balcony with the front section cut out to give a horizontal throw to the screen (eg: Swansea Plaza (perhaps Albert Hall too); Port Talbot Plaza; Newport Maindee; Cardiff Olympia/ABC).

Or was ‘the box’ up at the back, where it was in most cinemas.

edithapearce
edithapearce on August 7, 2012 at 4:08 am

If you look at the links provided in a previous comment by amscwl you will see that the Plaza had an external balcony that extended across the front of the main entrance. The box was located immediately behind this balcony.The door on this balcony was an entrance to the box. The nominated number one projector and the slide lantern were located to the left hand side of the box. The portholes were located above the audience at the rear of the auditorium balcony. It was a very narrow projection room which in the summer became extremely hot.Projectionists used to take it in turns to have a break from the machines and cool off on the outside balcony.

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