ABC Haymarket Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne,
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Originally opened as the Haymarket Cinema with Tom Walls in “Just Smith” on 21st December 1933. A project of Dixon Scott (who also commissioned the News Theatre on Pilgrim Street, now operating as the Tyneside Cinema), this was originally a comfortable city centre cinema of modest capacity (1,280 seats) which played second-run product. Its architectural style was Egyptian and was inspired by a Cairo cinema. The booking policy was to play the best of what had been relinquished by the city’s main cinemas at that time, namely the Paramount(later Odeon) Odeon, Queens, Pavilion, Westgate (later Gaumont)and Stoll Picture Theatre (now Tyne Theatre and Opera House).
The owners claimed that the building was quite capable of seating 1,700 people, but that they wanted the best in comfort and legroom for their patrons…
Associated British Cinemas(ABC) acquired the property from Dixon Scott in 1936 and extended its size considerably by lengthening the building. The alterations included the transfer of the projection suite from the circle wedge to above the rear circle. The enlarged capacity was 2,013 and the new booking policy was to play first run M-G-M, Warner Bros and, naturally, Associated British Pictures.
Although the ABC Haymarket was always a very busy cinema, it was to become disadvantaged by being compulsorily purchased by Newcastle University in the early 1950’s and leased back on relatively short leasehold periods to ABC subsequently. Newcastle University was never in a hurry to utilise the site to extend their premises but, by the same token, were not prepared to relinquish ownership of the building either.
Consequently, ABC were never prepared to inject large capital sums into the building by widening the relatively narrow proscenium during the wide screen era of the 1950’s and 1960’s or by subdivision during the conversion era of the 1970’s and 1980’s. For this reason (and to retain a foothold in Newcastle) ABC, by now part of EMI, acquired the twinned Essoldo Cinema on Westgate Road in 1974. ABC programmed this very nice (and up to date) twin in conjunction with the Haymarket until the latter’s closure on 20th September 1984, the final film was Prince in “Purple Rain”.
A rather sad end for what had once ranked as one of ABC’s busiest and most profitable cinemas in Great Britain. It was demolished in March 1985.
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