ABC Reading

25 Friar Street,
Reading, RG1 1DP

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ABC Reading

The Central Picture Playhouse was opened on 25th March 1921 with "The Call of the Road". Designed by Oxford based architect George Gardiner in a Greek Revival style, it had white faiance tiles on its facade. The cinema had a cafe for the convenience of its patrons and a ballroom above. The projection booth was located on the underside of the circle.

Taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain in 1931. It was given the ‘Luxury Lounge’ treatment in November 1967, with luxurious seating installed in the stalls area, and the circle used as an overflow area. From 30th July 1971, it was re-named ABC.

On 14th October 1971, a second screen was opened in the former cafe area, with seating for 118. In March 1977, the main auditorium was closed for twinning, and re-opened on 12th May 1977 with 534 seats in the former stalls and 226 seats in the former circle.

Re-named Cannon in 1986, it was re-named MGM on 4th June 1993, then went back to the ABC name. It was closed on 22nd March 1999 with “Shakespeare In Love”, “A Night at the Roxbury” and “Patch Adams”. It stood empty for several years, and was demolished in the summer of 2003. A Hotel Ibis has been built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Two vintage photographs of the auditorium of the Central Picture Playhouse in 1955:
View from the stalls:
View link
View from the circle:
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Exterior of the ABC in 1967:
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Tripled in this 1977 photograph:
View link

Mike_Blakemore on September 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

Loaded a view from the stage end on the re-opening night 1967

expatmike on February 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I worked at ABC Frior St a few years before the Granby closed. It looked to us at the time that ABC really wanted it closed. They would give it mostly poor films with Frior St. getting the best. On the few times it would get a good film it did quite well. I always remember the balcony would rock when people walked around.

expatmike on February 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm

I worked as a projectionist for a while. This is a link to some 8MM film I took at the time.

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