Apollo Entertainment Centre

Shields Road, Byker,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6

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The Apollo Super Cinema was built for and operated by the independent Tyne Picture Houses Ltd. Located in the Byker district of the city, it opened on 28th December 1933. Seating was provided for 1,634 in stalls and circle levels, and there were waiting rooms that could accomodate 1,000 patrons. The interior decoration was designed by R.J. Richardson of Newcastle. A series of bands across the ceiling represented sprockets in a strip of film, and there were fountain-like decorative lighting features each side of the proscenium. Above the proscenium was a painted mural depicting singers and a musician. There was a free car park at the rear, and in April 1935, an 18-table billiard hall was added to the building.

The Apollo Cinema was seriously damaged by German bombs on 6th May 1941, the cinema had just closed for the night, so the building was empty. Its remains were boarded up for over 14 years. The billiard hall remained open until after the war, when it became a soft furnishing factory and later a clothing factory. In 1955, planning permission was granted to rebuild the Apollo Cinema to its original design, using the same architectural firm of Pascal J. Stienlet & Son. The new Apollo Cinema opened on 19th March 1956, with 1,576 seats (936 in the stalls and 640 in the circle). Interior decoration similar to the previous scheme was by M. Alexander & Son of Newcastle.

The Apollo Cinema was closed on 17th September 1962 and was converted into a bingo club. However the projection equipment was retained and maintained. It re-opened as a cinema under the management of Arnold Sheckman in June 1964 with Jerry Lewis in "The Nutty Professor".

Purchased by the Classic Cinemas Ltd. chain in January 1972, it was closeded on 1st October 1972 for conversion into a 3-screen Apollo Entertainment Centre. Cinema 1 in the former circle seated 534, and opened on 30th December 1972 with "Mary, Queen of Scots". Cinemas 2 & 3 in the former stalls seated 180 & 169. On 5th February 1973, a fourth screen seating 87, was added in space that was originally one of the cinema’s waiting areas. This opened as the Tatler Cinema Club, screening uncensored sex films. It soon reverted to regular programming, and then became a skateboard centre, before closing by 1980. The remaining 3-screens in the Apollo Entertainment Centre closed on 1st October 1983, with "Friday 13th Part III" showing in Cinema 1.

The building was empty and for sale, until September 1989, when it became a car maintenence centre named Autospray. A feature of the building was the rear end of a red mini car protruding from the facade. The building was demolished in December 2001 and a supermarket was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

KenRoe
KenRoe on September 25, 2010 at 8:31 am

A 1934 vintage photograph of the auditorium, soon after opening:
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The auditorium being re-built in 1955, after German bomb damage:
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The exterior in 1956 after re-opening:
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Photographed in 1967:
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