Queen's Cinerama Theatre

Northumberland Place,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1

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Queens Cinerama Theatre

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 16 comments)

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 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 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!

nic1946 on August 6, 2014 at 2:33 am

My first visit to this wonderful cinema was a school trip to see a film about the Bolshoi Ballet which would have been 1955 ish. I then saw many shows in the years after in all it’s formats. Presentation always impressed me in those days, not any more! The multiplex way seems to be just slap it on the screen!

terry on June 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Photo of original auditorium uploaded.

NThomson on October 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

My favourite movie being the 1969 War Blockbuster:– “Where Eagles Dare” and I remember seeing this at the Queens in 1974 just before I began my career here, all its glory on the 70mm giant screen… never forget it… nothing ever compares to this presentation….

Mr_BTH on May 31, 2018 at 10:40 pm

I have the 2 Philip’s DP70 projectors from the Queens. I have spent the last 8 years restoring them to full working order. I would like to contact any of the projectionist from the Queen.

NThomson on June 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm

Hi there Mr BTH, Im probably one of the last projectionists from the Queens Cinerama Newcastle, Im thrilled to hear the original projectors are still around and in working condition.

terry on June 11, 2018 at 6:03 am

I also know who removed the DP70’s from the Queens when it was being demolished. He was the now deceased Chief Projectionist of the ABC Haymarket and when I returned from my days off I saw them in the intake room. The Chief was told to remove them from the building asap and where they ended up I never found out……

Glad to hear that they are still intact and in working order!

terry on March 22, 2019 at 2:22 pm

I watched ‘Stan and Ollie’ the other evening and enjoyed it; Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Stan Laurel is very good although not as convincing as John C Reilly’s masterly performance as Oliver Hardy.

I was , however, appalled by the blatant re-writing of history regarding the venues they played on the tour and the hostelries where they stayed. In Newcastle upon Tyne they played the 2,000 seat Empire, a prestigious ‘Moss’ touring venue. They also happened to stay at The Royal Station, then regarded as one of the elite hotels alongside The Royal County and The Turk’s Head (and slightly ahead of The Crown).

They did make ‘personal appearances’ at the Stoll (a Moss cinema) and the Queen’s Hall, Gaumont’s main cinema in the city and more highly revered than the one bearing their company name on Westgate Road. The Queens was always well maintained and highly regarded in all its guises ; I refer to the original old style cinema , subsequently the ‘Todd AO’ venue and ultimately its Cinerama incarnation. It never had stage facilities but , had it done, the productions would have been of number one calibre and any mention of the place would not have met with the derision of the young girl on reception at the fictional quayside inn who assumed that L & H “…..must be at the Theatre Royal!”. The Royal was at that time legitimate theatre plus ballet and opera whereas the Empire was the top variety house ahead of the much larger Palace Theatre which, being independent, was unable, by and large, to book the ‘top notch’ artists who appeared at the Empire.

I do not know which venue doubled for the Queens auditorium (it may have been a set) but it bore absolutely no resemblance to the Queens which was a 1,400 seater comprising circle and stalls as opposed to the 400 (approx.) seat stadium plan venue as seen in the film. In Glasgow we are expected to believe that the Empire was a modest little place instead of being the top variety house in Scotland (a status shared with the Alhambra), albeit with a certain notoriety among performers (the ‘comics’ graveyard’). In fact, when Glasgow Corporation wanted to save a city centre venue for posterity back in the 1960’s they had the choice of the King’s or the Empire. Unwisely, in my opinion, they chose the former.

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