Majestic Cinema

Quebec Street,
Leeds, LS1 4DS

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Majestic Cinema

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Located in Leeds city centre at the junction of Quebec Street and Wellington Street, by City Square. Opened on 5th June 1922 with Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess in D.W. Griffith’s “Way Down East”. Over 50,000 people attended the Majestic Picture Theatre in its first week of operation. It was designed by architects Pascal J. Stienlet of Newcastle upon Tyne and J.C. Maxwell, and built for Leeds Picture Playhouse Ltd.

The Majestic Picture Theatre suited its name entirely. The wide spacious auditorium, with a single balcony seated 2,500 and was richly decorated with wall motifs and an enormous plaster frieze. It had its own symphony orchestra conducted by Francois Grandpierre and a grand organ which was built by Messrs Vincent of Sunderland, which had 3Manuals and 33 speaking stops. The cinema also contained a restaurant and there was a ballroom in the basement.

Together with the 1911 Picture House (demolished) and the 1932 Paramount Theatre (later Odeon Headrow closed 2001), the Majestic Cinema was one of the premiere cinemas in the city throughout its life.

It was taken over by the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT) chain in December 1925, and they were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in February 1929.

The Majestic Cinema was closed by the Rank Organisation on 10th July 1969, after the Odeon (ex Paramount) had been twinned. The final film was Clint Eastwood in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. The Majestic Cinema immediately became a Top Rank Bingo Club, later operating as a twin when the former Majestic Ballroom was also converted into a bingo club. The bingo club closed in 1996.

In 1997 it became a popular nightclub known as the Majestyk, with another nightclub Jumpin' Jacks located in the former ballroom in the basement.

The Majestyk Nightclub was closed in late-2008, and became a concert venue, with Jumpin' Jacks continuing as a nightclub. Proposals to convert the building into a casino were refused and went to appeal in June 2009.

In 2012 windows were punched into the ground floor level in a refurbishment of the exterior. With many of the original decorative features retained, the main auditorium was renovated and converted into retail units with intent for the building to have mixed uses. The building was vacant, with the retail units not yet leased, when on the evening of 30th September 2014, the former Majestic Theatre was badly damaged in an arson fire which destroyed most of the interior. The outer walls were considered to be safe and not in danger of collapse.

Since 14th June 1993, the Majestic Cinema has been designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

John Farrar
John Farrar on November 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

Some Todd-AO / 70mm Roadshows at the Majestic:

SOUTH PACIFIC – 21st Sept 1958 to 27th June 1959 (40 weeks)
THE SOUND OF MUSIC – 18th April 1965 to 30th Sept 1967 (128 weeks)
DOCTOR DOLITTLE – 24th Dec 1967 to 27 April 1968 (18 weeks)
STAR! – 21st July 1968 to 23rd Nov 1968 (18 weeks)
OLIVER! – 22nd Dec 1968 to 26th April (18 weeks)

Ian
Ian on October 29, 2012 at 7:25 am

The former Majestic has now been converted to – at the time of writing – unlet retail space with a possible separate live music venue in the basement. Most surviving internal features have been retained but additional windows have been punched through at ground floor level. Two photos from October 2012.

MAJESTIC CINEMA

MAJESTIC CINEMA

PS – can the name of this entry be changed back to Majestic now please?

Dazcool68
Dazcool68 on December 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm

My mother used to work at the Majestic , not sure of the years she worked there but , she used to talk about when the Rolling Stones appeared there and Judy Garland, as well as seeing the big blockbuster movies of the time such as The Sound Of Music over and over again as an usherette.

bikerpeter
bikerpeter on February 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I’ve always loved the cinema experience, not just to see films but to absorb the atmosphere and decor. Still a teenager, my first experience of big screen presentations was South Pacific in the fifties at the Majestic which “flicked my switch”. A few years later I got a job with Rank as trainee assistant manager and subsequently deputised for managers rest days at various cinemas in Yorkshire and Lancashire. My last base was at the Majestic Leeds at the start of record run of Sound of Music. Lee Prescott was the General Manager and the staff were a friendly hard working brigade.Every morning arriving for work with queues already formed at the Advance booking office on Wellington Street. I took every opportunity to stand at the back of the stalls under the projection booth to take in the opening sequence as the camera panned down onto Julie Andrews and the accompanying enveloping sound system. So sad to see the venue close and absolutely horrifying to see the gross vandalism of the massive dome as can be seen on Flickr. Still all is not lost, the restorers have done a magnificent job and are to be congratulated wholeheartedly and I look forward to the venue’s renaisance.

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on February 27, 2013 at 4:21 pm

AT LAST…. Found It.. Interior picture of theatre found.. Have done my best I can for clarity..

Tez
Tez on January 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm

They used to run great Saturday morning Matinees during the Sound of Music run.

I saw the Three Stooges, Old Mother Riley, Norman wisdom and many other classics. Batman cliffhanger series too.

A kids pop band would entertain us at half time. I remember stamping my feet to Bits and Pieces by the Dave Clarke Five. Great memories :–)

bikerpeter
bikerpeter on September 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

bikerpeter here again.

Re Tez contribution. During my time at the Majestic during the run of Sound of Music which was still running at capacity houses at every performance I cannot recall there being Saturday mornings kids shows because we just wouldn’t be able to do so alongside The Sound of Music. Indeed it was very early into the extended run that the box office accountancy was in serious trouble and in consequence inevitable serious deficits. Apart from myself,the other assistant and Lee Prescott the General Manager no one else had a working knowledge of road show advance ticketing which was then quite complex, each and every book of ticket stubs including sold, unsold and half price had to be counted daily and I would guess we were taking advance bookings at least a month ahead of performance dates so chaos was inevitable. The only aid to accountancy we had was an Olivetti hand crank operated adding machine which we bought from the theatre’s 12/6d pw sales deficit allowance. Always drawn but never dipped into because kiosk and ice cream sales were tightly controlled and instead spent in the nearby pub). A pretty useless bit of kit because it was quicker and more accurate to do our sums mentally. No help whatsoever was ever forthcoming from the hierarchy of course, the corporate expression of the day being “The ball’s in your court”, in other words, your problem you sort it. Referring back to the kids matinĂ©es, there couldn’t have been live performances by pop groups simply because there were no stage facilities whatsoever, The huge deeply curved Todd-A-O screen was immediately behind the screen tabs and the stalls balustrade, probably a meter at most, with no room whatsoever for even a raised dais. Not withstanding my recall of the period which I believe is accurate any relevant comment will be appreciated of course.

rasLXR
rasLXR on September 30, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Majestyk nightclub: Firefighters tackle ‘large’ blaze.
Crews from 10 fire engines are tackling a blaze at the former Majestyk nightclub in Leeds.

West Yorkshire Fire Service said the “large” fire had reached the roof space of the building.

Flames could be seen shooting out of the top of the premises as firefighters fought to bring the fire under control.

Crews were called to City Square at 19:19 BST after reports of smoke coming from the first floor.

The Grade II listed former Majestic cinema, later the Majestyk nightclub, has recently been refurbished.

It closed its doors in 2006 and plans to revive the building included a cinema, restaurants and a gym.

It was in 1922 that the Majestic, as it was then named, opened as a cinema with 2,400 seats.

By the 1950s the venue was a ballroom and in 1969 the building re-opened as a Top Rank bingo club.

The bingo hall later closed and after a few years empty the building became home to the Majestyk nightclub.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leeds-29436144

Maryroberton
Maryroberton on October 1, 2014 at 3:13 am

Sad to see the fire at the Majestic Leeds. My grandad Andrew Roberton came from Newcastle to open and manage the Majestic in 1921.

surf_digby
surf_digby on October 1, 2014 at 9:11 pm

A few videos of the fire.

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/video/news/leeds-majestyk-nightclub-fire-3814897528001

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/leeds-majestyk-fire-glorious-dome-lost-forever-says-heritage-chief-1-6870789

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