Gala Pavilion Cinema

78/80 St. Mary Street,
Cardiff, CF10 1FA

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Pavilion Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Cardiff Philharmonic Hall 1876 can still be read on the outside of the building behind which is a "Square" bar/disco.
Over the years the building has housed various entertainments, from Music Hall, Stoll’s "Panopticon", and from c.1917 a full-time cinema called the Pavilion Cinema, operated by the Biocolour Company.

Associated British Cinemas took over the operation and for some years operated in conjunction with the "Queens", moving the manager and orchestra to the Pavilion while sound was installed for the first talkie (The Singing Fool). The Queens Cinema and Pavilion Cinema became ABC’s second string when the Olympia Cinema was reconstructed and frequently showed the same programme.

After being given up by ABC the management passed to J.F. Emery Cinemas circuit and advertisements reveal that most films were re-runs and occasional 75 minute cartoon shows.

The interior retained many old features and no attempt was made to accommodate CinemaScope. When necessary the screen masking was lowered and the edges of the image were blanked off.

The Gala company took over and renamed the cinema and after some redecoration closed off the balcony and offered stalls seats at four prices for Continental films, art-house (e.g. Polanski’s "Repulsion") and many sword and sandal products from Italy.

Closing as a cinema in 1968, inevitably Bingo eventually took over and after that came to an end a major refurbishment took place restoring many of the features of the old building into which modern video screens were added within a "Music Hall " environment. For a time photographs were displayed in the foyer showing the building "before and after" refurbishment. Acoustic paneling and a reopened balcony were revealed.

In common with other cinemas the Pavilion Cinema also offered a soda-fountain, restaurant, and ballroom at various times.

An exhibition of Cinema Equipment from the collection of a local enthusiast contained a projector salvaged from the Pavilion/Gala consisting of an RCA Photophone sound head,Westar mechanism and a Peerless Magnarc.

The opening hours of the present bar were reduced when Wetherspoon took over the buiding next door,the former Prince of Wales Theatre, itself a cinema from 1957 until it ended as an "Adult Cinema". In 2009, it was reported that the bar use at the Gala Pavilion had ceased and the building was empty and for lease.

Further details will be added when preserved documents have been examined.

Contributed by geoff

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Ian
Ian on August 17, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Photos of the Philharmonic Hall can be found here:–

View link

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geoffjc
geoffjc on May 1, 2008 at 10:23 am

Some of the building plans now located show many of the features of the building have survived several of the updates, though the side balconies supported on steel columns were lost (probably when the balcony was re-built for Bingo).
The present entrance and foyer is not original but has been very carefully constructed to resemble the old building.
Further research will be required to determine the extent of the work carried out to plans by W Glen ca 1929, probably for the new lessee ABC.

geoffjc
geoffjc on September 20, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Further details of the early history of the Philharmonic Hall including drawings of the interior can be found in the “Western Mail” available at Cardiff Library on a searchable computer archive.
The building is currently undergoing external repair and is hidden by scaffolding (Sep 2008)

edithapearce
edithapearce on March 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I can recall spending a few days of doing relief at this cinema some time around the early 1960s.The equipment was extremely ropey and badly maintained with the sound system having been rehoused in an old tin traveller’s trunk. The film we projected was also weird, a rough print possessing the title “Mondo Carne”. Basically a documentary with no plot whatsoever which was shown to an almost non existent audience.Thinking retrospectively,with films of that quality, it must have been a miracle that the Gala stayed in the film business as long as it did.

geoffjc
geoffjc on April 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm

April 2009- the building is currently not in use and available for lease.

geoffjc
geoffjc on April 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Plans now located reveal that only minor alterations were carried out by Biocolour, and ABC’s alterations dated December 1934 mostly involved rearrangement of the upstairs seating, in particular in the front part of the balcony where stepping was improved as was the seat pitch. The best of the existing seating was moved downstairs where spacing was marginally improved.
In a letter to the planning authority W.R.Glen gave details showing that the overall effect would be, Stalls 765 to 752, Balcony 326 to 308 “chairs”, providing “greater comfort to patrons” and improved access to Balcony stairways

Ian
Ian on October 10, 2010 at 9:16 am

An exterior shot of the Philharmonic Hall here:–

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stagedoor/5066661745/

geoffjc
geoffjc on November 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

November 2012, still vacant.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on September 3, 2013 at 11:58 am

Have loaded a picture from the ABC Days….

geoffjc
geoffjc on December 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

Recently published photographs reveal that when the Panopticon became the Pavilion the original small entrance was still in use.The enlarged foyer and canopy , as restored for the now closed pub,was added shortly afterwards. In 2013 plans to adapt the building for a new use were proposed.

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