ABC Haymarket Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1

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ABC Haymarket 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.

Contributed by Terry Charnock

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

terry on August 6, 2002 at 9:59 am

Since compiling the above profile I have found copies of the opening souvenir brochures for the Haymarket both in its original form in 1933 and the super enlarged version of 1936.

The architects on both occasions were Dixon and Bell of Newcastle Upon Tyne and the opening presentation at the theatre’s re-launch on August 31st 1936 was M-G-M’s ‘A NIGHT AT THE OPERA’ starring The Marx Brothers.

There is a page near the back of the 1936 brochure with the following announcement:–

“Do you know that Associated British Cinemas broadcast a programme of latest film news every week from the following stations:–

Poste Parisiene……….Every Saturday Night at 11 p.m.

Radio Normandy………Every Monday Morning at 9.30 a.m.

This Broadcast is of particular interest to Haymarket Patrons as it gives you information about some of the films which will be coming to this theatre"

Yes, I can just imagine that most citizens of Newcastle Upon Tyne would have been avid listeners of the aforementioned FRENCH radio stations…

3rictaylor on February 15, 2009 at 8:51 am

during the early 1980s i was fortunate enough to know one of the projectionist, at the haymarket cinema, in newcastle. (i wont give out his name as i am no longer in touch)
i was around 16 years old and loved the cinema and to be given the chance to help out in the projection/winding room etc, was a dream come true.i can still smell the carbon-arc rods burnig away and the clatter of the twin peerless projectors.i can remember standing on the stage, behind the screen(it was like a giant tea-bag, full of holes)and being dwarfed by the huge speaker system. the sound boomed out through the hole-filled screen and out to the audience(no stereo here?)i wandered how the image was able to be reflected back, given that there were more holes than screen?.i was also showed the remnants of the original projection room(prior to the upper circle being built). inside the cieling area of the stalls, the chared remains of a large fire(from many years ago)was still in evidence and the position of the projection box could still be imagined(very spooky but wonderfully romantic, at the same time)
i remember the transition from 20 minute single reels to the more modern, cake-stand formular(no need for change overs/cue dots/rewinding reels by hand etc)
and the refiting of powerful light bulbs, instead of hazardous carbon-arc rods. the new system came along with the re-introduction of 3-D movies, somewhere between 1982-3, friday the 13th, jaws-3 and the rest of the short lived, though effective, polarized-stereo movies.i lost touch with my friend,through some personal circumstances and didnt get back the newcastle until after the cinemas closure, and was amazed to find it demolished in a matter of months. i have fond memories of all of the cinemas in and around newcastle…the essoldo, queens, odeon, studios 1-4, apollo, but i will alway hold the haymarket as my favourite. aside from a few trinkets that i saved from the winding room floor, i never got any photos of the wonderful interior or the exterior and have found it nearly impossible to track any down. if anyone can help(for my own personal use)i would be very grateful…thank you.

NThomson on September 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm

HI, I took a few slides before closure, when Paul Beck kindly let me into the building to photograph it…..
Did you know Paul at all ??
I knew Tony Hartley too….
I worked at the Queens and Odeon as projectionist *


terry on August 31, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Hello Neil

I would be delighted to see the slides of the Haymarket; I believe you also have some film footage of Westgate Road ABC on its last day. I was unable to visit on the last evening as I had already transferred to Darlington and that tin pot shower of charlatans, viz Cannon, played a dirty trick to stop me attending………

I hear that you and Steve have now retired from the business and I trust that you are both enjoying being out of the rat race…..



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