Whitehall Theatre

High Street,
Rotherham, S60

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Opened as the New Picture Palace on 11th February 1911 in the former Masonic Hall with seating for 800. In September 1920 it was completely refurbished, reopening on December 2nd, but was gutted by fire on February 25th 1921. The ground floor cafe and smoke room were smoke and water damaged and all the orchestra instruments were lost in the blaze.

It was rebuilt to the designs of local architect James Totty and George W. Knapton, and reopened as the Whitehall Theatre on 7th Janaury 1924. The entrance was through an arcade, with the cafe on the right, leading into the foyer where two staircases leading up to the circle level. The auditorium was panelled in shades of cream with blue and gold relief work. Seating and proscenium drapes were in peacock blue, with grey carpets. On 29th August 1927 the cinema was taken over by Cinema (Rotherham) & Electra Ltd. who also took over the Rotherham Cinema House in 1931. Talkies arrived with “The Jazz Singer” on 19th April 1929. Taken over by Union Cinemas chain on 2nd December 1935, they were taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in October 1937. ABC announced they were going to completely rebuild and enlarge the cinema with seating for 1,800, but these plans were never carried out. Cinemascope was installed in May 1955 with the first ‘scope film being Alan Ladd in “Drum Beat”

ABC sold the cinema to a firm of developers in early 1960 and the cinema finally closed on 25th June 1960 with Richard Attenborough and Michael Craig in “The Angry Silence” and William Hartnell in “Jackpot”. The cinema was demolished later that year and a retail store built on the site. A few of the staff were re-employed by ABC when they opened their new cinema in Sheffield the following May of 1961.

Contributed by Richard Roper (abcman)

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