Park Hall Cinema
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In the 1880’s local businessmen built a large hotel and concert hall on the corner of Park Place, Cardiff.
The hall, which could acommodate 2,000, was used for concerts , meetings, religious services, exhibitions etc, it held a Cinematograph Licence from 1910. Regular use as a cinema did not begin until World War One, and then the hall was still in use for other purposes. It was equipped with a Willis concert organ which had 3Manuals/45stops which acompanied the film programmes, together with an orchestra.
In 1935 the Sir Percy Thomas partnership were employed to redesign the hall and convert it to full-time cinema use. The flat floor was retained but the Victorian balcony was replaced and a new proscenium replaced the concert stage. The Willis organ was re-built in 1936 and the console was placed on a lift, it had a grand opening by organist Edgar Lewis..
In the 1950’s the Park Hall Cinema became the first-run cinema for 20th Century Fox’s CinemaScope features having installed a 37' screen and full stereo sound system.
As it remained independent of the circuits, in later years the Park Hall Cinema struggled to book the best of the new releases and in 1964 took the bold step of rebuilding, internally, for Cinerama.
Opening in late 1964 with the three-projector system and "How the West was Won", the Park Hall Cinerama showed almost all of the early Cinerama productions while other Cinerama Theatres were converting to "Single Lens Cinerama" (70mm).
70mm Cinerama arrived less than a year after opening and survived until production ceased after such epics as "Custer of the West" and "Krakatoa, East of Java".
The Park Hall attempted to carry on, booking everything of a which a 70mm print could be obtained, notably "The Wild Bunch" but had to fill in with almost anything, even black and white old films which looked lost on the huge curved Cinerama screen. It closed in 1971. After laying derelict and then in use as storage, the rear portion of the hall was demolished and the hotel car park was extended onto the site. The remainder of the building had windows introduced and bedrooms were added, with the main entrance foyer becoming commercial use.
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