14 Union Street,
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Designed by the pre-eminent cinema architecture firm of the northeast of England, Percy Lindsay Browne, Son & Harding, the Wallaw Cinema opened on 16th November 1937 with 1,600 seats. It was built for the Wallaw Pictures Ltd. chain of Ashington, Northumberland.
The plain squat Moderne style facade belies the attractive auditorium within, but its dignified bulk is nevertheless a skilled massing of foyer, auditorium and stage brick blocks dressed with stone. The wonderful Art Moderne foyer contains its original fittings including metal handrails, balustrades and inlaid doors.
It was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain on 24th March 1955. They operated in until 21st June 1970, when it was taken over by an independent operator. The London based Classic Cinemas chain took over on 2nd January 1972. Another independent took over on 24th June 1977 and closed as a single screen cinema on 11th December 1982. Re-opened under another operator on 27th December 1982, the auditorium was sensitively sub-divided in July 1987 with the two small screens hidden beneath the balcony. These are comfortable but undistinguished.
The main screen however was a delight with all original fittings, covered lighting in full working order, decorative plasterwork and wood facings to walls intact, etc.
The Wallaw Cinema was refurbished and redecorated in 1998 and it was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.
The cinema closed in 2004, with “The Passion of the Christ” the last film screened. The building lay empty and unused for several years. It was purchased by the J.D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs, and after renovation opened on 10th December 2013 as ‘The Wallaw’.
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