Queen's Cinerama Theatre

Northumberland Place,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1

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Queens Cinerama Theatre

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The Queen’s Hall opened on 9th September 1913. Although it was a large building, it had a rather plain facade facing onto the narrow Northumberland Place, with a small entrance to the extreme left of the building which accessed the mid-stalls. There were two other entrances, one on Northumberland Street which accessed the best steats in the stalls and circle and another on Lisle Street which accessed the front stalls.

The building was designed by Newcastle architects Marshall & Tweedy and there were 1,047 seats in the stalls and 366 in the small circle. There were also six private boxes at circle level along each of the two side walls. There was a square proscenium arch and rounded barrel ceiling. Initially an independent cinema, it was taken over by George Black in March 1920 and a Vincent 3Manual 29Ranks straight organ was installed.

In 1928, George Black sold the Queen’s Hall to General Theatres Coropration and it was closed for four weeks during July and August 1928 for redecoration. It was soon under the operations of Gaumont British Theatres when they took over General Theatre Corporation, and it became the premier Gaumont Theatre in the city.

In 1957, the organ was sold and removed from the cinema and a new wide screen was erected in front of the old proscenium opening. The Queen’s Hall began screening Roadshow films. First came "Around the World in 80 Days" which ran for 3 months. "The Ten Commandments" ran for 4 months in May to August 1958. The cinema was then equipped to screen Todd-AO and it opened with "South Pacific" which ran for 81 weeks from September 1958. The Queen’s Hall was closed on 15th June 1963, to be converted into a Cinerama Theatre. The building was totally gutted and a new roof installed. Seating was reduced to 972 (613 stalls and 359 circle) in the new luxury cinema, which had drapes on the wall and a huge curved screen.

The Queen’s Cinerama Theatre opened on 9th November 1963 with "How the West Was Won", projected via a 3-projector system. From 23rd May 1964 "Cinerama Holiday" played and this was followed by "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". The cinema then went on to screen films in 70mm Cinerama on a single projector "Its A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which was followed by a 140 weeks run of “The Sound of Music” from 18th April 1965.

The Queen’s Cinerama Theatre closed on 16th February 1980 with Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It remained empty and unused and was demolished in February 1983. A shopping centre was built on the site, which was unsuccessful and it is now converted into gambling areas and restaurants.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 30, 2008 at 2:34 pm

A vintage photograph of the Queen’s Hall in August 1949, playing the Gaumont release:
http://www.mawgrim.co.uk/cavalcade/newcastleq3.jpg
The Queen’s Hall, photographed in March 1956, playing the Gaumont release:
http://www.mawgrim.co.uk/cavalcade/newcastleq2.jpg
The entrance to the Queen’s Cinerama Theatre, playing a Cinerama Roadshow presentation in 1971:
http://www.mawgrim.co.uk/cavalcade/newcastleq.jpg

drno
drno on September 20, 2009 at 9:06 am

This was an awesome cinema and sadly we will never see anything like it in the North East again. I remember going with my parents to see the remake of Lost Horizon there and feeling slightly dissapointed as they showed the trailer for Live And Let Die which was playing at the Odeon – ‘'why could'nt I watch that instead of this musical rubbish’‘ I asked of my parents ? – despite this dissapointment I could appreciate the grandeur and scale of the cinema.

I did visit the Queens before it closed to see the cartoon version of Lord Of The Rings – I was really impressed with the epic showmanship that the Queens was capable of – If only it was still around when Peter Jackson’s trilogy was released – Now that would
have been something !

Sadly missed and thanks for listing this forgotten classic of a cinema – Thank You

eceleticandveryinspired
eceleticandveryinspired on March 21, 2010 at 5:39 am

Outstanding colour interior shot here:

View link

Reminds me of the Astoria cinema charing cross road London in the late 1960s

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on May 17, 2010 at 12:04 am

This site has a number of pictures of this theater over the years: View link

NThomson
NThomson on September 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I began my working life as a projectionist here back in 1974,
before been transferred to the odeon in pilgrim street….
I dont think we will ever see a giant screen like it again... During a 70mm screening, there was nothing to compare it.... Picture and Sound quality were outstanding.... Screen size:- 75 x 31`.
I will remember the Queens with great affection….

RafBoyMacham
RafBoyMacham on July 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

I would just like to second the comments made by N Thomson. As a youngster I saw all the original 3 strip cinerama films and I was so impressed that I made a point of travelling over from Sunderland every time a new widescreen film came out. 2001 a space oddesy was fantastic albeit in 70 mm. I think the sound quality in this theatre was second to none and blows the socks off the latest compressed gimmicky sound you get these days in the “cubicles”. Cinerama still lives if you can make a trip to Bradford media museum. They are shown on the first saturday of each month. Fill your nostalgia boots folks. Queens Theatre, forever in my heart!

NThomson
NThomson on July 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Hope you all enjoy the two photos which I`ve uploaded from my personal collection of the Queens Cinema…

bentonelvis
bentonelvis on January 25, 2013 at 9:39 am

Must agree about the sound quality.
I remember ducking when the sound of shellfire came from behind me while watching ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ in 1970.

melvynhaynes
melvynhaynes on November 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I first saw “Lord Jim” and “Fall of the Roman Empire” at The Queen’s and was spellbound by the experience. I became a cinema projectionist, but not in such a grand cinema. The present generation has no idea what has been lost and what they are missing.I would love to see the Cresta Run sequence from “Cinerama Holiday” again. If only it could be at “The Queen’s” in Newcastle!

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