Abbeygate Picturehouse

Hatter Street,
Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1NE

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Abbeygate Picturehouse

The Central Cinema opened on 4th November 1924 with Lois Wilson in "The Covered Wagon". Initially it had a seating capacity of 900 in stalls and circle. There was rear-projection and in the early years the stage was used. The auditorium was built at the rear of existing residential property and the entrance and foyer was through the ground floor of that property. It was independently operated, but came under the control of the Bostock chain before 1930.

It was damaged by a fire on 13th September 1930, and was immediately restored, re-opening on 1st November 1930 with Janet Gaynor in "Sunny Side Up". A new conventional position for the projection box was found above the foyer and the seating capacity was now 660. New owners took over in in the late-1940’s and the Central Cinema was closed on 10th October 1959 for re-furbishment. The last films being Mario Lanza in "For the First Time" and George Montgomery in "Watusi".

Re-named Abbygate Cinema, it re-opened on 30th December 1959 with the UK premier of "Please Turn Over" starring Ted Ray, who made a personal appearance, together with other stars of the film; Jean Kent, Leslie Phillips and Joan Sims. The seating capacity had been slightly reduced to 564.

In around 1971, it was taken over by the Star Cinemas chain, based in Leeds. They twinned the auditorium and re-named it Studio 1 & 2, with seating provided for 196 and 117 in the two screens located in the former circle. The former stalls area was converted into a bingo club. Taken over by the Cannon Group in August 1985, the cinema was re-named Cannon, and it was re-furbished in December 1986.

In August 1993 it was re-named MGM, then after a short while became the ABC. Re-furbished again in November 2001, it was re-named Odeon.

The Odeon was closed in November 2005 when the new Cineworld multiplex was about to open, but it was taken over by Hollywood Cinemas and re-opened on the same day as the Cineworld, the 18th November 2005.

Now catering to a family audience and screening ‘up-market’ films, the town centre location of the Hollywood Cinema makes a good contrast to the new Cineworld.

In March 2010, it was taken over by the Picture House Cinemas chain, and was closed in April for refurbishment, re-opening on 30th April 2010 as an all digital cinema with 3D, and re-named Abbeygate Picturehouse.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on June 5, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Photographed as the ABC Cinema in 1998:
Photographed as the Odeon in March 2005:
Photographed as the Hollywood Cinema in May 2007;

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on October 17, 2011 at 10:09 am

Can any other cinema or theater boast the number of owner and name changes? Local movie-goers must be dizzy when trying to remember the present name!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 9, 2019 at 10:16 am

Manager/Projectionist Patrick Church wrote a book with details on his days at this theatre. It is called THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH.

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