ABC Bournemouth

27 Westover Road,
Bournemouth, BH1 2BZ

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ABC 1 Bournemouth

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Westover Super Cinema was built for and operated by Associated British Cinemas(ABC), and was designed by their ‘in-house’ architect William Riddle Glen. It opened on 19th June 1937 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Shall We Dance".

It was located adjacent to the Westover Palace Cinema, which closed the night before the new Westover Super opened. Designed in a striking Art Deco style, seating was arranged for 1,605 in the stalls and 910 in the circle levels. The cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank theatre organ which was opened by noted organist Reginald Porter-Brown. There was also a restaurant and a balcony cafe for the convenience of patrons.

On 31st May 1951, the World Premiere of the British musical film "Happy Go Lovely" starring Vera Ellen & David Niven was held at the Westover Cinema. The premiere was attended by film stars Bebe Daniels, Ben Lyon, Googie Withers and music hall artist George Robey. Also in 1951, the UK Premiere of the MGM film "Showboat" starring Howard Keel was held here. In March 1958, the Westover Cinema was re-named ABC.

On 24th September 1969, the ABC was closed for twinning, re-opening on 13th June 1970 with 644 seats in the former circle (ABC 1 which is equipped for 70mm presentations) and 982 seats in the former stalls (ABC2). The re-opening films were "Paint Your Wagon" and "All the Way Up". The cinema had been given a ‘modern’ look in both auditoriums, with curtained walls and ‘modern’ new facade over the entrance hid the original Art Deco style frontage.

The ABC 2 screen was closed in January 1973 for twinning and re-opened on 19th April 1973 with seating for 587 and 223 seats in a new ABC 3. The ABC was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon in late-1983. In May 1992 it came under the control of MGM and was re-branded with that name.

This was not to last long and the name ABC returned to the building when a management buy-out was completed in 1996. In 2000 the ABC came under the control of Odeon Theatres Ltd. Odeon also operate the former Gaumont in the town. They closed the ABC on 4th January 2017 with a special screening of “Back to the Future”.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

dericbotham on July 8, 2016 at 7:44 am

I remember this and the Gaumont (Odeon) further up Westover Road before they were twinned and after. As some people have said their glory days are over. However, let’s not forget that hey have both given wonderful service to Bournemouth over the years. I visited both in October last year with The Cinema Theatre Association of the UK. I fear the opportunity to visit these cinemas is limited. A new multiplex with some 10 screens will open in 2017 and replace both the ABC and the Odeon. The end of an era indeed

Fabian_Breckels on August 30, 2016 at 7:51 am

Visited the ABC on Saturday and saw “Jason Bourne” in Screen 1. Sadly it’s being deliberately run down with the tabs and lighting abandoned and just semi-darkness and a bare screen to greet you. Also it was uncomfortably hot inside like even the plenum system had packed up.

I wasn’t allowed to take any photos but I can’t help feeling they are making the experience here as bad as possible so the multiplex comes across as an improvement. Apparently that opens in January or early February. Not the worst looking leisure complex to be honest and at least it’s only on the other side of the lower gardens. But I still think it’s mad to be eradicating cinemagoing in Westover Road. An epic fail by Bournemouth Council. Mind you, they blew £5m on demolishing the IMAX and leaving a hole in the ground, which kind of tells you all you need to know.

ABCboi64 on October 11, 2016 at 9:49 am

I have hired the ABC Bournemouth for a special performance of Flash Gordon this Thursday on screen one. Assuming all is well, the screen tabs will be re-activated for this screening. I expect this to be the final special performance before the cinema closes in the next few weeks.

ABCboi64 on December 11, 2016 at 4:38 pm

The ABC Bournemouth is expected to close on the 4th January 2017.

ritzman on January 3, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Last show this evening 04/01/2017 after 79 years & 6 months of film presentation – very sad!

rasLXR on January 4, 2017 at 12:57 am

The last ABC CINEMA of the once great UK circuit closes its doors tonight.

thomastace on January 4, 2017 at 3:26 pm

It has closed with a performance of Back to the Future. Very sad.

popcorn_pete on January 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Sad day! BTTF was voted for from a shortlist and shown at 1830. The regular films shown earlier in the day were Moana, Monster Trucks and Why Him? Full story at the following link with several photographs

terry on January 7, 2017 at 9:41 am

World Premiere of ‘Happy Go Lovely'in 1951 :–

terry on January 9, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Article re closure:–


Very interesting to read the comments of the CTA’s Richard Gray when comparing the original ABC and Odeon circuits………

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