Coliseum Cinema

139 Cowbridge Road East, Canton,
Cardiff, CF11 9AG

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Coliseum Cinema

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Built 1912 as the Canton Coliseum and for much of its time second-best to the nearby Canton Cinema. It opened on 6th January 1913 with “Panthers Boy” and “The Indelible Star”.

Anecdotal evidence from local residents refers to "seats with holes in","always breaking down" and by the late 1950’s the Coliseum, part of the local Willis group was a long way from the luxurious venue described when it opened.

Bingo took over in around 1962 and for the first time in many years queues were seen outside the "Colla".
The success enabled some long-overdue redecoration to be done and a mix of bingo and films continued for many years until the Coliseum showed its final film in January 1986. It went over to full time bingo but this closed in the late 1980’s and the building was sold for re-development and was demolished. A purpose-built bingo hall was erected for Castle Bingo.

Contributed by Geoff

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

geoffjc
geoffjc on August 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm

Can you provide evidence for the claim that films were shown after 1961?

geoffjc
geoffjc on August 9, 2007 at 3:12 pm

The opening programme, advertised in the press, was “The Panther’s Prey” and “The Indelible Stain”.
It had been planned to open by Christmas 1912 including a colour film in the programme but the opening was delayed.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 9, 2007 at 3:45 pm

In the booklet ‘Ninety Years of Cinema in Cardiff’ by Brian Hornsey (published by Fuchiaprint, Stamford) he states….‘The Coliseum became one of the first bingo halls in the Cardiff area in around 1962, and thus films began to be shown part-time. Films ran on until January 1986. Bingo ran into the 1980’s….’

Thanks for the corrections on the opening film titles.

edithapearce
edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I visited the Coliseum several times in the 1960s specifically to view the projection equipment. I can confirm that the cinema was totally incapable of showing films by 1964 owing to the removal of equipment including arcs and sound heads.

geoffjc
geoffjc on April 5, 2009 at 9:46 am

Research in newspapers of the time reveals that the Coliseum started Bingo in the summer of 1961, at first on three/four days a week but within a month had gone over totally to Bingo. Proprietor Rex Willis was interviewed about the huge success of Bingo and also tried introducing it in the previously closed Rialto and at the Globe, though these ventures were abandoned within a few weeks.The Globe survived for over 25 years as a cinema.

palfery
palfery on January 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

The coliseum in the 50s showed the more sex and horror movies though on occasion they were suitable to go with my parents. latterly it got very down at heel. On one visit I touched the row in front with my knee and the entire row fell over. On another occasion mid-film a double door under the centre of the screen opened showing a brilliant light and out of it emerged an old lady in her slippers carrying a teapot with which she exited stage left, returning later and closing the door behind her. Surreal. Never to be forgotten.

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