Avenue Cinema

Royal Avenue,
Belfast, BT1 1DD

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Avenue Cinema

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The Picture House was opened in 1911. It was located on a corner site at the corner of Royal Avenue and Garfield Street. It was within a building containing offices and shops. Without the advertising signage, there would have been no indication that the building contained a cinema. The Picture House had a 29 feet wide proscenium and an added facility was a cafe for the convenience of patrons.

The Picture House had one main claim to fame, as it was the first cinema in Northern Ireland to screen ‘talkies’, when Al Jolson in "The Singing Fool" played for eight weeks, four times a day in 1929. It later was re-named Avenue Cinema, and then in 1947 was taken over by the Curran Cinemas chain and re-named Regent Cinema after a refurbishment in September 1947. The re-opening was attended by film star John Mills, and he was the star of the main feature film "So Well Remembered". There were plans proposed to rebuild the Regent Cinema and create a 3,000 seat new cinema on the site, but these plans never came to fruition.

Taken over by Odeon (Northern Ireland) Ltd. part of the Rank Organisation in December 1956. In March 1961, Rank purchased the surrounding buildings, and again there was talk of planning a new cinema on the site. Instead the Rank Organisation decided to modernise the Hippodrome Theatre, after which, the Hippodrome was re-named Odeon.

In 1974, the Regent Cinema was damaged in an IRA bomb attack on the nearby Grand Central Hotel, which at the time was being used as Headquarters for the British Army. The cinema was repaired and Rank left the management of the building to an independent operator, who re-named it Avenue Cinema again.

The Avenue Cinema was closed in 1982, and was converted into a bingo club for a couple of years. It and the entire building were demolished in 1987, and the new Castle Court shopping centre was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 30, 2008 at 7:26 pm

The date given for this photo is September of 1986.

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