Gaumont Wallsend

69 High Street East,
Wallsend, NE28 7RJ

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Gaumont Wallsend

The Borough Theatre opened as a live venue in 1909, designed by Messrs J. Fleming Davidson and C.D. James. By 1930 it had 1,100 seats in stalls and two balconies, but this was probably closer to 2,000 when opened. Two years after opening the original architects returned to design a projection room at the rear of the lower circle, with an oriel window and emergency escape routes on the side wall. It was marginally altered again in 1935 and then refurbished and altered in 1949 by the architectural firm Percy L. Browne and Harding.

The Borough Theatre was taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in 1928 and was renamed Gaumont in 1946. On closing in November 1960, it was converted to bingo and at some point reverted to the original name. Bingo ceased around the turn of the 21st century and an amusement arcade located in the former foyer continued for several more years. The building has been largely derelict since. It was under threat of redevelopment in 2009, and was demolished in early-2011. The empty plot of land has been grassed over when seen in October 2011.

Inside it was pretty much as built, the renovations and alterations being rather superficial in nature. There was a semi-circular box on either side of the proscenium and niches containing female statuettes. The acting area of the stage was approx 9.14metres square. There was one of the most insensitive false ceilings I can remember seeing, inserted at the lower edge of the second balcony, which cuts off the upper part of the proscenium and hides the decorated oval ceiling and gas burner completely. The lower balcony contained an abnormally pronounced saucer rake with the sides considerably higher than the centre.

Contributed by Ian Grundy
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