Wallaw Cinema

14 Union Street,
Blyth, NE24 2DX

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Wallaw Blyth

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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’.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

project on January 20, 2005 at 6:13 am

A lot of the information above is incorrect.I worked at the wallaw from august 1984[which is when fergusons transport bought the building]to its closure last year.It was leased to and run by bob milner until 1997.During that time bob built the business up and it was a very well run popular cinema.Bob and myself restored a lot of the decor and fittings and managed to get the building listed.Since bob left i have witnessed the gradual decline until closure last year.their were many reasons which i cant go in to why the cinema ended up closing but im sure it could be restored and reopen once again.It does need someone to spend some money on it but as a keyholder i know the equipment hasn`t been removed.Its all still there.Seats,screens,projectors,etc.There have been two people interested in reopening it as a cinema and someone who wanted to turn it in to a nightclub.Nothing became of any of these proposals and now the building stands decaying.If nothing is done soon it will be to late.The building is for sale or to let if anyones interested.

Lamby on January 20, 2005 at 6:54 pm

This may seem strange but I am part of a Paranormal Group who is looking to spend the night in old places. For various reasons I believe the Wallaw may be a good location to spend the night as with other old buildings in Blyth. The was the reason for asking if anyone knew who owned it. Since my original post the News Post Leader did a photo shoot with me which should be in the local paper very soon. The idea being for the owners to let us spend the night. I am originally from Blyth so if I fail to spend the night at least there has been some publicity for what was a great cinema!!!!

jonkino on August 21, 2005 at 10:31 pm

FAO Project, Re Wallow theatre

Can you tell me if this cinema is still available on the market to lease of for sale. I may be interested but need to view it and the area in which it is in. I was very interested in reading about it . looks like it was a real nice cinema once. I’m curious as to what is happenning with it now. There seems to be no way of contacting you direct on this site. Can you reply to me please at .uk thanks jon

CinemasRule on April 16, 2008 at 6:36 pm

i got access and was inside the wallaw cinema today 16/04/2008 and all my photos are on my myspace photo album which is linked here.

View link

the lobby area is flooded because of a hole in the roof which is tradgic. but that is the bulk of the damage. there is a small leak in majour screen in the upper circle section. then the rest of what is needed is simple cosmetiics replacement sound systems, new seats and some paint. other than that the building is screaming for a new lease of life. the place may look beaten down. but with some money its still possible to recindle what it had. check those pictures out and contact me on myspace if you want to talk.

geordielad on December 10, 2010 at 6:51 pm

If you go to the estate agent it is under offer. It is going to become a Wetherspoons Pub. I do not know whether to be happy or sad. It is becoming derelict so this will prevent demolition but at what cost will it become a pub? Windows in walls… loosing the original lighting troughs, light fittings Lets hope not!!

DBage on October 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Been good reading the above postings. RE Geordielad info about it becoming a Wetherspoons pub, I see that this is scheduled to open on Dec 10th. Its good to see that the place will have a new lease of life, as I enjoyed both my time working at the Wallaw as front of house staff and then projectionist at the time the cinema was tripled and also as a patron of the cinema as well. As a keen cinema goer, I think the 30s style cinemas cant offer the same level of presentation and comfort as the new cinemas we have in our region, so am really pleased to know that the Wallaw has a new lease of life. I believe/hope that the new owners will have been sympathetic in retaining as much of the architecture that they could incorporate within the new business, as they have at The Forum, Hexham. I am keen to see the Wallaw and will visit early after it opens.Its good to know, that since the first posting back in January 2005, that The Wallaw will now be back in use, a happy ending.

terry on April 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm

The Wallaw, whilst briefly operated by Classic Cinemas, never was renamed ‘Classic’ – see my comment after the Essoldo Blyth article.

DavidSimpson on July 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

As can be seen from my photographs, this is a fantastic pub conversion by J. D. Wetherspoon. The duty manager kindly allowed me to go up to the rear of the former circle, not open to the public, to get a lovely photograph from that splendid vantage point.

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