Central Cinema

77 Boutport Street,
Barnstaple, EX31 1SR

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Central Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built as a replacement for the Theatre Royal which was closed in February 1930 and demolished. It was a joint venture for Albany Ward (a division of Gaumont British Theatres Ltd.), Gaumont British and Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT). The Gaumont Palace Theatre opened on 3rd August 1931 with Eddie Cantor in "Whoopee".

It was designed by Bristol based architect William Henry Watkins, assisted by Percy Bartlett. Located in a narrow street, the facade has two fluted pillasters on each side of a large central window. Two of these pillasters are topped with theatrical masks.

Inside the auditorium, seating was arranged for 702 in the stalls and 422 in the circle. There is a triple-cove rectangular proscenium which contained concealed lighting. Along the top of the proscenium is a decorative feature which has the initials ‘GP’. There is a rather ‘old fashioned’ style barrel ceiling and concealed lighting.

It was re-named Gaumont in 1937 and was re-named Odeon by the Rank Organisation from 21st October 1962. Taken over by Classic Cinemas Ltd. on 9th December 1967, it was re-named Classic Cinema.

They instigated a policy of part-week films and part-week bingo. Eventually the building was twinned with bingo operating full time downstairs in the former stalls and the Classic Cinema operating full time upstairs in the former circle. In 1982, it was taken over by an independent operator and re-named Astor Cinema with seating for 360 in the former circle. Eventually the bingo operation closed.

In the mid-1990’s it was taken over by the independent Scott Cinemas circuit and in around 2000, they created three screens in the former stalls area. Currently Screen 1 in the former circle seats 332, Screen’s 2 and 3 in the former rear stalls each have seating for 90 and Screen 4 in the former front stalls has 126 seats. There is a plan to add a fifth screen soon. The Central Cinema has a Licenced restaurant/bar in the circle foyer and is now fully air-conditioned.

The Central Cinema is a Grade II Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 14, 2008 at 8:17 am

Here is a photo of a Central Cinema in Barnstaple.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 14, 2008 at 8:43 am

The address that I found is 77 Boutport Street.

james2003
james2003 on April 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

Scott Cinemas are planning to convert the former boiler house, which still has the two boilers that used to heat the auditorium, into the Central’s fifth screen.

DanHarris1982
DanHarris1982 on August 26, 2013 at 1:27 pm

The plan to add two further screens is still very much active, though these will now be built on adjacent land rather than converting any portion of the existing building.

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