Castle Cinema

Castle Street,
Caerphilly, CF83 1NZ

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Castle Cinema

A medium sized cinema located in Castle Street, Caerphilly, the Castle Cinema opened in July 1913 and had a 25 feet wide proscenium. It was owned by the Caerphilly Miner’s Institute. They also owned the nearby Workman’s Hall and Institute Cinema in the same Street.

The cinema possessed a balcony plus a very roomy projection box housing two GB Kalee 12 Arc projectors with Kalee 11 open sound heads. There was also an adjacent projection room that housed a slide lantern and a public address microphone that was used to address audiences during breaks.

The Castle Cinema rose to fame following a live concert staged there by the notorious Sex Pistols punk rock group on 14th December 1976. The bands' UK tour attracted the media hype and publicity following the cancellation of their gigis at numerous venues across the UK, due to pressure from various religious groups. The Caerphilly gig went ahead, although outside the cinema a group of religious protesters staged an alternative concert of Christmas carol singing.

During the 1970’s the Castle Cinema was independently owned and it was twinned, with seating provided for 400 and 120 in the two screens. It was closed at the end of September 1989, and was converted into a snooker club. It was demolished in 2002, and a Housing Association off was built on the site.

Contributed by Editha Pearce, Ken Roe, Jeffrey Morris

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Prior to the Kalee equipment being installed, the Castle arcs were Ross Streamlights powered by a single rectifier located in a room at the back of the box. This single rectifier was removed from the cinema when the Kalee arcs were installed as each came with their own individual rectifier sited immediately behind the projector.

The Ross arcs were extremely unreliable and expensive to operate, spares were unobtainable. The two Ross arcs remained at the Castle for some years as junk after they went out of use. Eventually they were scrapped circa 1962. However,the mirrors and gear trains were saved and were sold to the Embassy Cinema at Brigend.

edithapearce on April 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The slide lantern and the microphone were housed in a separate area, to the right of the box,for two reasons.Firstly there was no room/port for the lantern in the main box.Secondly the interval slide presentations were quite extensive when compared with the way slides were commonly used in other halls that I visited. Not even the Cardiff Plaza with its famous slide shows used public address.

Usually Castle presentations were accompanied both by background music and a live commentary made via the sound system.The noise from the projectors would almost certainly have made using the microphone from the main box an almost impossible task.

edithapearce on October 11, 2009 at 3:00 am

If my memory serves me right? The Castle Cinema was purchased by the Caerphilly Miner’s Institute sometime round about 1958. Before 1958 booking were made from an office in Cardiff. Post 1958 bookings were made for both the Workman’s Hall and the Castle from an office at the Castle itself.

edithapearce on November 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

Re reading entries about this hall has jogged my memory further. I did occasional jobbing sessions at this venue around 1960/61. At that time the chief projectionist was a gentleman named Malcolm. It was obvious that the hall had been purpose built for film presentations – there was the usual iron ladder exit at the back of the box to enable projectionists to escape if the inflammable film of the early cinema years caught fire.
I can recall being shown the screen end of the hall which included a scope screen that had been brought forward at the time of installation.
Even with this forward screen, there was still a large stage area in front of the screen. The entrance to the rear of the stage, ex the auditorium, was via door on the right hand side. At the back of the stairs leading to the stage was another sealed off door. Painted on the wall next to this door were some stage instructions and an arrow labeled ‘Dressing Room’. Thus I would suggest that the Castle was constructed more as a dual purpose theatre / cinema rather than as a pure cinema. However, on my few visits to the hall I can never remember any one mentioning that stage shows had taken place there.

edithapearce on November 26, 2009 at 10:18 am

In the 1880’s there was a well known business man in Cardiff named Solomon Andrews.He had his fingers into everything including railways, trams and other public utilities. Solomon died circa 1908 and his extensive and business was continued by his son Francis.
Francis Andrews was well known for his interest in theatres, bioscopes and later cinemas.The headquarters for the Andrews family business was at City Road, Cardiff. However, during my days at Warner Pathe I can recall bookings for the Andrews cinemas being made from the Central Cinema located at the Hayes in Cardiff.
I am almost certain that bookings for the Castle Cinema at Caerphilly were made via the Central Cinema. Thus I would suggest that the Castle Cinema was one of Francis Andrews pre First World War ventures into the theatre/bioscope/cinema business. In 1913 film presentations were often just ancillary entertainment that were used to compliment stage shows.

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