Focus Cinema

10 Mile End Road,
South Shields, NE33 1TA

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Showing 19 comments

Gogsy on February 6, 2017 at 3:04 am

I had trouble remembering the Regal name Terry,and I was working there at the time!

terry on March 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Why on Earth the independent operator who took over from Brent Walker renamed this place the Regal is beyond me as the Odeon King Street had been Blacks' Regal. It would have been more sensible to give it its pre Gaumont name, Scala. However, very little ever made sense in the cinema world…….

Mike_Blakemore on December 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

If my memory is right Peter Macrae was assistant Manager at the ABC New Street Birmingham before me..

Gogsy on June 15, 2014 at 4:28 am

I remember Peter Macrae and Peter Gibson from Brent Walker coming up to the Gaumont/Focus,nice chaps both of them!

DBage on April 30, 2014 at 4:00 am

Hello Terry, I have only just read your message on facebook and fully agree with every comment you have made, albeit, I am still a keen cinema goer so still attend the Odeon Metro Centre very regular but tend to often pull the presentation to pieces, especially when they decided to stop using the masking, leaving it in the scope setting regardless of the format they were showing, although I’m glad to say they seem to have started to use this again feature again.The new digital projection is amazing too but sadly its invention has come at great cost to projectionists as they are no longer needed, although I think that the employers are a little rash disposing of all the years of experience as the system isnt as easy to use as they would have us believe and I know they will have a need for the experienced staff they have chosen to make redundant. I read recently that 2 long time projection employees in the North East have been made redundant after approx 40 years of service each, very sad. I used to so love to see 70mm presentations at both the ABC Westgate Road and especially at The Queens with its Cinerama screen and both with lovely house curtains. Like you, I resigned myself to knowing I wont ever have the pleasure of working in such lovely picture palaces again, even the grottier sites I ahve worked at such as the former Gaumont in South Shields still had a charm about it that cant be recaptured in the multiplex cinemas. I now have a home cinema of my own, complete with house tabs, obviously but I did go for the digital projection, on that I have to agree does project a better image than the former 35mm systems that I loved working on, but sadly film scratched although have to admit, not on my watch, I cleaned the gate and rollers after every showing. Nice to hear from you Terry and hope youre well.

terry on January 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Hello David

I have only just stumbled upon your response; in the past ‘Cinema Treasures’,via the linked e-mail address, would advise me of a reply to a comment only for it to be merely an additional observation added by someone. Ironically,in this instance,they did not bother………..

Anyway, I did indeed manage the ABC Westgate Road, having transferred to Newcastle upon Tyne (initially at the Haymarket Theatre)from the ABC Chester which I managed subsequent to ABC’s disposal of South Shields. I did for a brief period look after the two large Newcastle venues simultaneously.

I would not enjoy working in film exhibition these days as I detest the multiplex format. They may be comfortable and have good sound with digital stereo but are otherwise soulless. In relation to the sound I perhaps should substitute ‘loud’ for ‘good’ and utilise the expression ‘over the top’ to describe the digital stereo. The loudness is often necessary to compensate for bad audience behaviour in the unattended auditoria whilst the digital stereo is perpetual and unrelenting.

I recall with affection the 70mm venues which ABC had in most major cities. 6 track magnetic stereo was used in these situations. The concave screens would vary between 50' and 90' in width whilst the principle of ‘less is more’ was the order of the day in the case of the stereophonic sound. By that I mean that the stereo effect would only be used in scenes where it would best enhance the image on the screen; it was indeed spectacular used in this way.

A handful of wonderful venues exist today (mainly independents) whereby the atmospheric ambiance of the old time cinemas is combined with modern seating, configuration and amenities. The Plaza Stockport, Rex Berkhamstead and the Odeon Leicester Square (probably the last Odeon theatre to use house and screen tabs in addition to retaining its Compton Organ) would perhaps best exemplify the types of theatres to which I refer.

DBage on September 25, 2013 at 3:19 am

Hello Terry, I had forgotten that you had taken over the management of the ABC South Shields after Peter Lish had left. I had thought I was right in thinking Peter has died but pleased you confirmed this, although not that Peter had died. Did you also manage the ABC Westgate Road?, I believe I can recall seeing you FOH. I had forgotten about Peter MacRae and didn’t know of his nickname.I didn’t have much dealing with him during my time of employment with Brent Walker.

terry on September 24, 2013 at 6:39 am

Peter Lish (as opposed to Peter MacRae) died a few years ago – just in case there is any confusion. I trust that Peter MacRae is still alive and well.

Mike_Blakemore on September 23, 2013 at 7:27 am

Hmm Peter MacRae’s nickname was Kipper.. I witnesed the disposal and Transfer of The Focus Skem..

terry on September 23, 2013 at 7:12 am

Peter Lish left the ABC South Shields in July 1980 and I (who had followed him into ABC Sunderland as A/M) took over as Acting Manager, subsequently Manager until I handed over the theatre to Peter MacRae, CEO of Brent Walkers Cinema Division, in May 1981. I knew Peter MacRae from his ABC days when he was Manager at ABC Bradford and it was quite a pleasant hand over.

I remember there was a rather surly Internal Auditor who had managed the old Grimsby Odeon, a venue which Brent Walker very quickly disposed of. I suspect that his dour demeanour may have been exacerbated by Peter MacRae’s statement to his District Engineer, a pleasant, avuncular chap whose name I do not recall,viz:

“I told you that you would find this as an ABC Theatre to be in better condition than the Rank places we took over!”

I felt like saying that they must have been in one hell of a state because very little money had been spent on the ABC South Shields for years – see my article about the Savoy (ABC) re the reasons for this.

Peter did indeed die at an early age a few years ago and I am now the only remaining member of the team at the Haymarket Newcastle where I first met him in the early 1970’s………..

DBage on September 22, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hello Mike, some nice cinemas in Birmingham, although been a while since I visited, the last film I saw at Cineworld in the city centre was Super 8, so probably about 2 years ago or so, but a great experience, good size screen and quality sound. Brent Walker was a decent company to work for and to this day, I can still maintain that my preferred cinema is the Gaumont/Focus123/Regal cinema in South Shields, had a great atmosphere and I worked with some of the nicest people I have ever know, Gogsy is still a friend of mine after 20+yrs since we parted company as colleagues. Thanks for reply, David.

Mike_Blakemore on September 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hi DBage.. My Basic stamping ground was the Midland Zone of ABC… Then in my Independant Days I was based in Birmingham.. I was also involved with a Cinema Equipment Supplier That covered most on the country… Inc Brent Walker Cinema… :o)

DBage on September 21, 2013 at 5:34 am

Hi Mike Blakemore, been reading with interest your connection to local cinemas and believe that the Peter you might be recollecting at The ABC South Shields will have been Peter Lish, he was manager at that site until the cinema transferred to the control of Brent Walker. I used to work at the former Focus/Regal cinema also in Shields and then at the Savoy in Ocean Road. I also worked briefly at The Customs House, Warners at Bury Manchester and for a lengthy period at The Wallaw Cinema in Blyth, where I worked for Peter, sadly I believe that Peter died at a young age, although someone might be able to confirm this detail.

Gogsy on June 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

Sounds like you had a good time Mike,just visited The Tyneside Cinema last week and we had a tour around the place,great to be back into a working Cinema again!

Mike_Blakemore on May 30, 2013 at 4:18 am

Hi Gogsy In 1996 I had a minor stroke names I get mixed up.. We dealt with a Peter.. I think his nickname was kipper (Behind his back) plus Mangers and Projectionist at sites We supplied Focus. Appolo..Hutchinson.. Star.. Classic.. Even did Emergency repairs for Rank at Birmingham.. I got given a hugh amount of Pictures when I was younger.. and met the Big names in Cinema.. They where always very helpful.. when I praised the cinemas That they had built.. There lies tales.. Hmm.. These people that drop names get on my nerves. as I said to the Queen the other Day :o)

Gogsy on May 30, 2013 at 12:44 am

Hi Mike,did you get it off a lad called David Bage?

Mike_Blakemore on May 20, 2013 at 4:50 am

Hi Gogsy… I had the picture from someone at Focus that I worked with, at ABC years previously. Was involved with supplying spare parts for Projectors etc. etc.. to Focus.. Brent Walker That was over 30 years ago… Thanks for making me feel old…

Gogsy on May 20, 2013 at 3:24 am

I worked there as a Projectionist in the 80’s,loved the place,that’s my photo I think!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 28, 2009 at 8:46 am

Photographs and more details can be seen on this link, by clicking Royal Assembly Hall at the top of the page: