ABC Mansfield

Leeming Street,
Mansfield, NG18 1NG

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ABC Cinema Mansfield

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Grand Theatre was designed by T.V. Woodhouse of Nottingham and opened in 1906 as a live theatre. It was largely rebuilt internally in 1928 to the plans of architect J.H. Tomlinson. It became a cinema shortly after this, despite having an excellent 40 foot deep stage, with a full height fly tower, and a very large number of dressing rooms.

It was acquired by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) around 1930 but not renamed until 1963. It was tripled in 1978 when the the stalls area became Screen 1 with 390 seats, the circle Screen 2 with 369 seats and the stage was adapted as Screen 3 with 171 seats. Later known as Cannon when the Cannon Group took over ABC in 1986, it reverted back to ABC in a management buyout. The ABC closed in 1997 when a new 8-screen ABC multiplex opened nearby.

The former Grand Theatre became a Rileys Snooker Club, using the ground floor only.

Inside, the building has been little altered from the triple cinema days. In the snooker hall the curved front of the edge of the balcony (not returned to the proscenium wall) can be seen, together with the lower portions of the altered (CinemaScope) proscenium arch and large stage area. All with a false ceiling above. Upstairs the former Screen 2 remains untouched but in poor condition, with a few broken seats left in situ, the screen has been ripped and behind it is possible to see traces of the original theatre proscenium arch with the upper parts of the very wide CinemaScope arch superimposed. The projection box is stripped. Behind the stage are around ten dressing rooms and on the top two floors of the block the managers flat. All windows have been bricked in and the area is almost unused and derelict.

The exterior of the building, with an unusual semi circular bay in the centre is believed to be intact although covered in the ABC cladding circa-1963. In the circle foyer there are still the covered windows of the bay, and the line of the balustrade is clearly discernable on the cladding. Entrance is now via one of the side exit doors, with the original foyer converted to kitchen/office space.

In March 2013, the building was purchased by a church, who plan to screen films in one of the auditoriums.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

andirichardson on March 30, 2013 at 9:34 am

@surf_digby @Mike_Blakemore Hi guys, great comments. Do you know where I can get any internal photo’s from when it was still in use as a cinema? Still a great building, wondering if that cladding could ever come off?

Mike_Blakemore on March 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

@ andirichardson. There should be some internal. They where taken after the ABC 1960’s ferub.. I have been searching.. I loaned a number of photos out some years ago and they where never returned.. The Cladding would come off. Might have to do repairs to the bolt areas and the front pediment

surf_digby on April 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

There is one photo on Flickr of Screen 2, seemingly taken just after the 1978 tripling.

Other than that one – and a photo of the staff taken in the foyer – I’ve not seen any other photo’s of the interior that were taken when the cinema was still alive.

Regarding the removal of the cladding, the architectural plans relating to the metal covering reads “Profile of projecting cornices and band courses to be cut back to line of pies(?) faces”. From poking my head through the windows, the stonework does not appear to be in particularly good shape. The balustrade on top of the curved section has been removed and replaced with brick. If the metal cladding were to be removed, the front of the building probably wouldn’t look too pretty. The bricking up of windows and cementing was not done with much consideration of asthetics.

surf_digby on April 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

UPDATE: The former Grand will be staying with for a few more years yet. It was bought in auction a few weeks ago, and is being turned into a church. The Pastor is a local man with as much nostalgic appreciation for the building as I, so won’t be ripping everything out, and has plans for Screen 2 to be refitted back into a small cinema (not that 300+ seats is considered small these days).

andirichardson on May 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

hey surf_digby, just missed you the day you came, thanks for the photo’s. Been in today and got a few pictures of the fly tower, thought you might like to see them. The place is pigeonsville at the mo! By the way, been way up right into projectionist room. Have you ever been up there? Although a miss, there are a few nostalgic items up there. By way of thanks, if you want a tour, let me know, best via facebook. The film-reel cupbaords are still there too. Would they be of interest to you cinema buffs?

Mike_Blakemore on May 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

@ andirichardson.. Those pics bought back memories.. When I did Relief Management there. I had to go on the stage to go to the Managers Flat to collect the theatre keys. The Stage Tabs when I was there was a proper Theatre flying set.. and The Drenchers.. The Lighting bars where still in place..

andirichardson on May 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm

anyone got a time machine? would love to see it in all its theatrical glory! Imagination is almost as much fun though! We found out that General William Booth came to Mansfield and spoke at The Grand! (circa 1908).

surf_digby on May 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Hi Andi, I would love an opportunity to tour the rest of the building. I have been in the projectionist room (and had my first “scary pigeon” moment in there), but missed out on the fly tower due to my comically underpowered torch.

bolman09 on June 10, 2013 at 11:29 am

Hi Andi. I too am a great fan of the Grand. Have been in a couple of times since it closed as Rileys. Did all floors……in the dark, with a torch. Would love to join you if you are visiting again. A beautiful building that has been saved.

andirichardson on August 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Hi guys, official church opening is 21st September 6pm for refreshments, 7pm start. You’re welcome to join us. Downstairs has been transformed!

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