Grand Cinema

Norton Road, West Melton,
Wath upon Dearne, S63

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Grand Cinema

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The Grand Cinema opened on Monday 24th March 1913. Built to the designs of Mr T. Burkinshaw of Barnsley. The front of the cinema had a stately appearance and on entering the swing doors with coloured leaded glass, the lobby had a paybox on the right with the manager’s office on the left. A further set of doors led into the auditorium which had a steep rake and its different priced seating areas with 600 tip up seats. The roof was a large span of steel trusses through which the building was ventilated. From 26th April 1913, a policy of cine-variety was started, which became very popular and the cinema was renamed the Grand Variety & Picture Theatre.

The Grand closed on 21st June 1928 for fifteen months during which time it was virtually rebuilt. It reopened on 30th September 1929. The Grand was modern in every detail and a lounge and sitting area was provided for waiting patrons, all delicately decorated. Inside the auditorium, the old barren appearance gave way to a vision of pretty waterside scenes all lit with suffused lighting. Mr Brian Dean of Mansfield was responsible for the new designs. A raised balcony was built using reinforced concrete creating another 300 seats giving a total of around 900. As in the stalls, an excellent view of the stage was possible from every seat. A new fully equipped 29 feet deep stage for live shows as well as screen entertainment was built and the cinema reopened with Mr J Fossett’s ‘Royal Empire Stage Circus’ with circus acts from principal European circuses. There were eight Dressing rooms.

Sound was installed on 4th August 1930 with the Western Electric Sound system. In 1931 the Grand Theatre came under the control of Mexborough Theatres Ltd., who were subsequently absorbed into the Leeds based Star Cinema Group. They closed the cinema on 17th July 1954 for their usual complete modernisation scheme. A large panoramic screen was installed enabling Cinemascope and VistaVision films to be screened. The whole building was redecorated in the latest style and new seating, carpets, drapes, lighting and projectors and sound were installed. In the foyer, the new style sales kiosk was placed selling ice cream, nuts, sweets, soft drinks and cigarettes. The first Cinemascope to be shown at the Grand was Edmund Purdom in “The Student Prince” on 20th June 1955. Bingo sessions by a company known as ‘Ace Bingo’ were introduced on Tuesdays from 18th June 1962 which became very popular and on 24th March 1963 the Grand Cinema screened its last film Kim Novak in “The Notorious Landlady”.

Two days later on 26th March 1963 the Grand opened as a full time Star Bingo Club. This continued until the mid-1970’s. The building then remained empty for several years before becoming a carpet showroom. In 1995, it was converted into a snooker hall with the entrance moving to the stage end of the building. Still open in 2008 as the Pocket Bar & Snooker Club'.

Contributed by Richard Roper (abcman)
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