Maxime Cinema

152 High Street,
Blackwood, NP12 1AH

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Maxime Cinema - High Street, Blackwood - circa 1973

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Designed by architect William S. Wort, the Maxime Cinema opened on 3rd July 1938 with 1,400 seats. It had a 30 feet wide proscenium, later widened to 45 feet for CinemaScope to the plans of architect David Evelyn Nye. Still listed as open in 1966, operating as an independent cinema. This was the most ramshackle of Blackwood’s cinemas that locals always referred to as the ‘fleapit’.

By 1976, it was operated by the Jackson Withers circuit and was running films and bingo. The Rank Organisation purchased the Jackson Withers circuit in late-1976. By 1980 the balcony had been twinned, with the two screens seating 194 and 170 and Rank also operating a Top Rank Bingo Club in the former stalls area. The cinemas were closed on 25th October 1988, with bingo continuing downstairs. In 2009, it operated as a Mecca Bingo Club. Finally operating as a Top Ten Bingo Club, the building was sold in September 2013, with plans to convert into a five screen cinema.

Conversion work began in 2014, with a reopening on 5th August 2014. Screen 1 in the former front stalls has 234 seats, screens 2 & 3 in the former circle each have 110 seats and screens 5 & 6 in the former rear stalls each have 72 seats. There is a licenced bar in the former circle foyer.

Contributed by Editha Pearce, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on March 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Hi Puddle – you’ve not been able to add your report back to us following your planned visit to the cinema so I have to assume that you were not able to secure access. If you have been inside it would be great to learn of your findings?

Christian
Christian on July 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm

The final film to run at The Maxime was the Eddie Murphy comedy, Coming To America. There was no B feature as Screen Two had long been made redundant.

I’ve many fond childhood memories of this cinema and definitely remember the lengthy ‘hype’ queues for ET, Ghostbusters et al. I’m sure that local church goers encouraged folks to boycott the cinema for it’s decision to show The Exorcist and The Evil Dead.

I’m 95% certain that the first film I saw there was Watership Down.

It is my understanding that the late Diana Dors visited the cinema to mark an occasion there (possibly a reopening?) – but I cannot elaborate any more on that as it was before my birth and based on what older friends tell me.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on July 4, 2011 at 12:22 am

Christian’s input is interesting. I have also heard that Diana Dors visited the Maxime although like Christian I’m not able to expand on the reasons why as I’ve never been able to dig deeper on this idea.

The cinema did screen The Exorcist and was given some rough media coverage as a result although the queues were considerable so the negative press coverage certainly attracted the patrons.

Unfortunately for me I wasn’t allowed in to the Maxime to see the Exorcist as I was 15 at the time and turned away by the ticket seller in the box office who recognised me from numerous visits, with a children’s ticket… lol I had to go to another cinema in the valleys to see the film.

It was a similar story with Emmanuelle, another film shown at the cinema attracting considerable press attention. Others included Straw Dogs, Soldier Blue, Last Tango in Paris and Clockwork Orange {I’m certain this was shown}.

Good to read that like myself Christian enjoyed his experience of the Maxime.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on September 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

The former Maxime cinema, trading as Top Ten Bingo, was put up for sale by auction. The former cinema has been sold to the Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company. The new owners plan to restore the venue back to use as a cinema with 4 or 5 screens.

Gringo
Gringo on September 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

Good to hear that there’s goig to be a cinema in Blackwood again. I spent a lot of my youth in The Maxime and The Capitol. Myself and three other friends were instrumental in the Mid 70s in keeping the ‘Max’ open, we were called the Maxime Action Group ’M.A.G.‘ . We campaigned in Blackwood and created a petition to offer to the council at the time and we succeeded in getting them to subsidise the cinema, and they then created the Twin cinema screens in the balcony area of the old theatre.We also got shown around the Old and new projection rooms by Albert the projectionist. So again good news and we won’t have to trek to Nantgarw to see a film.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on September 23, 2013 at 1:51 am

It is great news Gringo.

I imagine that Albert and other former staff members are no longer with us?

Rank were not overly pleased with the campaign group so you clearly did a good job.

Do you have any of the MAG material?

email me if you are able to?

puddlecheck
puddlecheck on November 20, 2013 at 5:48 am

Hi Fellow Maximers, Just to let you know that i gained access to the cinema this morning and took photos of all areas (84 in total) thanks to a very nice man over at Picturedrome Electric Theatre Co. There was one condition made that a copyright notice is put on them! if used on any site. I have posted a photo on Flickr and more will follow once copyright is added. Originals as agreed with PETCo will be sent to the CTA archive in London. I just wanted to record as much of the original before the changes are made to the 4 or 5 screens as mentioned in the local rags. Its in a bit of a mess at the moment removing all the bingo seats etc.etc however the very nice man said I could go back in the new year to record the changes. Lucky me eh!! Enjoy!

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on November 20, 2013 at 7:26 am

As already mentioned below, by puddle. Work is underway to transform the Maxime on Blackwood’s High Street into a four or five screen cinema. There is no doubt that the new owners will remodel the cinema into a state of the art multiscreen cinema that will become a popular attraction in this area of the former industrial valleys.

There is considerable internal damage to the original plasterwork, in particular in the balcony foyer and the non-public areas of the building.

Unfortunately most of the original plaster work featured in the auditorium was removed during the conversion from a single screen auditorium to that of a bingo hall. With so little of any merit remaining it is not possible to restore the venue as originally planned. Meanwhile there is some plasterwork in the lower ground floor foyer and at the rear of the stalls area, although this is minimal and unlikely to be of any importance when returning the cinema to use in today’s era. The remodelling undertaken by David E Nye during the installation of cinemascope remains intact.

Much of the focus will be to restore the façade while creating a modern five screen cinema complex within the auditorium. Two screens in the former balcony and three in the stalls.

Considerable modification of the ground floor and mezzanine foyers will enable the Maxime to be a modern business serving todays cinemagoers.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on February 20, 2014 at 3:03 am

Indeed Michael, Davis Evelyn Nye was commissioned by the Jackson Withers Circuit to undertake all their Cinemascope alterations, Maxime and Capitol in Blackwood, Astoria Ebbw Vale, Olympis Tredegar, Plaza Cardiff, Palace Abertillery, Hanbury Bargoed, etc.

The original architects for the Maxime in Blackwood was William S. Wort of Cardiff, Wort had already established himself as a contemporary style architect of cinemas an theatres in Wales, including the Odeon in Cardiff together with impressive alterations and improvements to the then Prince of Wales Theatre in Cardiff.

Jeffrey Morris
Jeffrey Morris on July 22, 2014 at 3:59 am

he Maxime cinema reopens as a five screen cinema complex with luxury bar on Wednesday the 6th August following a lengthy period of renovation remodelling the 1938 structure into a high tech modern cinema that will please cinemagoers throughout the former South wales industrial valleys.

Adam and his team have created a sympathetic, quality cinema that incorporates modern cinema exhibition technology together with that luxury feel that we used to enjoy when going to the pictures. Once again there will be a sense of occasion when going to the pictures in Blackwood, just as it used to be when the Maxime was last open as a fully functioning cinema.

Ticket prices are planned to be affordable at just £2.50 Mon-Fri and £3.50 Sat and Sun per person with no extras for 3D. The venue is sure to receive a warm welcome for the local community.

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