Odeon Darlington

220 Northgate,
Darlington, DL1 1RB

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ABC Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 1885 built Theatre Royal (architect Charles J. Phipps) was operating as a cinema when it closed in 1936. It was being operated by John Maxwell’s company Associated British Cinemas(ABC) and they employed the architectural firm Percy Brown, Son & Harding to build a new super cinema. The building was demolished apart from the side walls of the old theatre which were retained, the facade and stage end were new.

It opened as the Regal Cinema on 31st January 1938 with Spencer Tracey in "Captains Courageous". The seating capacity was for 1,620 in stalls and circle levels. There was no provision provided for an organ.

It was re-named ABC in 1961 and closed in May 1977 for conversion to a triple screen cinema. The ABC re-opened 16th June 1977 with screen 1 in the former circle seating 590 and screens 2 & 3 in the former stalls seating 220 and 149.

It was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon in the mid-1980’s, then it became the MGM and later reverted back to the ABC name. It is currently operated by Odeon Cinemas. However there is concern that a new multiplex cinema is planned by Vue Cinemas and this could lead to closure of the Odeon. Current (2008) seating capacities in the screens are; 550, 181 and 123.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 24, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Here is a 1997 photograph when it had been re-named ABC (for the 2nd time):
http://flickr.com/photos/12494104@N00/406838877/

Ian
Ian on April 3, 2008 at 5:03 am

The Odeon continues in April 2008. Despite being done by ABC the tripling preserved much of the art deco detailing of this cinema as can be seen in these April 2008 shots:–

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terry
terry on December 24, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Not all the side walls of the Theatre Royal were retained, as in order to widen the building, it was necessary to demolish the south elevation.

The circle originally seated 628 and was reduced to 590 in 1977 when the built out section from the circle (to accommodate the screen areas of the 2 minis below) encroached upon the sightlines; so the front row of the circle was removed.The 590 seats were reduced to 578 when I was manager there and some larger seats from my former theatre (Newcastle) were installed in the front circle.

Ian
Ian on November 25, 2011 at 1:37 am

In November 2011 the Odeon is receiving a major refurbishment, inside and out. The two mini’s have already been finished, the exterior has been repaired and repainted and is still under scaffolding, and the the main screen refurb is due to start shortly.

EXTERIOR

SCREEN

BALCONY

terry
terry on May 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Union Cinemas, who briefly operated the Majestic prior to its purchase by Oscar Deutsch, were taken over by Odeon’s rival company, ABC. Union had plans to open a brand new Ritz Cinema in Darlington but this failed to materialise. A possible reason for this could have been that ABC (who already had the Regal Northgate) were able to cancel the project upon their acquisition of Union. Had it come to fruition and had, in turn, the Majestic been a Union Cinemas outlet upon takeover by ABC then that company would have had the three largest and most modern cinemas in Darlington and it is therefore debatable as to which of those three would have been retained.

terry
terry on May 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm

The Odeon, Bondgate, Darlington,was going to become a drop wall triple cinema – IE the original circle looking onto the original proscenium as screen 1 and two mini cinemas in the underhang of the circle (IE in the rear stalls).

A problem arose whereby there would be insufficient clearance (owing to the positioning of the main supporting girder)for the projection from port to screen in the two ‘minis’. The conversion was therefore cancelled.

The ABC(Regal)Northgate had been conspicuous by its absence from a list of proposed conversions of ABC Theatres published in 1976 from which one could deduce that the writing was on the wall for that venue. However, as soon as it became known about the problem with the Odeon (Majestic), the ABC was not only added to that list but was rushed ahead in the queue and was converted in very much the same manner which had been intended for the Odeon (Majestic).

So, had the best laid plans of mice and men gone ahead the Odeon (Majestic) would have seen the ABC off instead of vice versa and, I dare say, would eventually have been further sub divided like most surviving Odeons.

Anyway, it seems very likely that the Vue Complex is finally going to go ahead in Darlington and that surely will spell the end for the Regal/ABC/Cannon/ABC/Odeon, Northgate.

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