New Coliseum Cinema

248 Whitley Road,
Whitley Bay, NE26 2TE

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Showing 13 comments

JohnGn on March 5, 2020 at 11:43 am

The suggestion by Terry that the date of the 1927 photo is incorrect was also my first thought, however the problem with that is that Belvedere House is visible on the photo and that is believed to date from 1926 – the date is cut into the stonework. In an attempt to resolve this, I have been looking at old trade directories and the local newspaper, but without really resolving the issue, although the trade directories do suggest that Belvedere House is actually earlier than 1926. I have, however been able to find out a bit more about the history of the Coliseum. It was opened on 14 May 1910 as a theatre, but at some time, possibly May 1912, it became the Coliseum Grand Cinema. In those early days, the entrance was in the Royal Arcade, (a somewhat pretentious name for what was really a passage running between Whitley Road and neighbouring York Road) however in June 1913, a new more spacious entrance foyer was opened at 250 Whitley Road which had previously been a shop. It was commandeered by the military during the war and reopened as the New Coliseum on 16 February 1920.

terry on February 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm

The one person who may have been able to answer, Norman Cully, is no longer with us but I am guessing , going by the style of the facade (Ionic pilasters etc), that it would indeed date back to 1919 when the building was modified as a silent cinema.

I am thus inclined therefore to ‘stick my head above the parapet’ and assume that the date on the aeriel view shot is incorrect as in 1929, when ABC acquired the place, Art Deco was becoming all the rage and much more modern looking than the architectural style of the – admittedly impressive – Coliseum FOH.

Norman said that the building would have had severe limitations even as a theatre, for whilst the stage depth was considerable, there was no fly tower (once again the Essoldo had the advantage). However, it had been an important concert venue, he told me, and the likes of Billy Ternent and his Orchestra made frequent appearances there during WW2.

JohnGn on February 25, 2020 at 11:59 am

Looking at the photos of this cinema, I realise that there is a query over the one dated 1927. In Frank Manders' book on North Tyneside Cinemas, there is a photo reproduced which is captioned as dating from the opening of the New Coliseum, which was 1920. However while that matches the present appearance of the façade fairly well, it does not match the appearance in the 1927 photo, which more closely resembles it’s earlier appearance as a theatre. This raises the question as to when the white façade was added. I had assumed that it was from the 1920 reconstruction, but it must have been added later. Did ABC when they took it over modernise it’s appearance? Or had it been done earlier? It would be interesting to know more about this.

terry on February 25, 2020 at 7:20 am

I was the Assistant to Norman Cully at the ABC Sunderland many decades ago and he had managed the Coliseum for a lengthy period prior to his Sunderland appointment. He told me some very amusing stories about the place and the characters who met up in ‘The Victoria’ next door.

Re the Coliseum: Norman always said that the best part of it was the foyer and , having once had a ‘peep’ inside the place when it had gone over to Bingo, I would be inclined to agree as the ‘Scope screen must have been a real 'Letterbox’ affair. In stark contrast , another Coliseum cinema (Glasgow) owned and operated by ABC was, after Cinerama conversion, to boast (at 90 feet) the widest screen in the UK.

The Assistant Manager of the Coliseum, Cathy Taylor,long before the Coliseum’s closure, transferred to the Haymarket Newcastle where I got to know her very well. She and Norman remained good friends throughout her lifetime.

One of the Coliseum’s projectionists, Fred Norris, also transferred to the Haymarket (at around the same time as Miss Taylor) where he became ‘Second’ to Chief, Arthur White and upon whose retirement Fred succeeded him. He later transferred to the ABC Westgate Road (former Essoldo) where he was my Chief for a number of years. I was recently informed that he had sadly passed away on Christmas Eve 2019.

JohnGn on February 24, 2020 at 11:13 pm

A somewhat belated response to N Thompson, Where Eagles Dare was shown from 2 August 1970 for two weeks. As it happens, I also saw Where Eagles Dare here.

NThomson on May 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

I can recall visiting this cinema in 1970 to see “Where Eagles Dare” does anyone know for sure the exact date this was shown..

nic1946 on August 6, 2014 at 4:28 am

I also used to go to ABC Minors at this cinema, I can remember how, no matter what the running time of the feature was (mainly westerns) they were always over by midday, if there was any love interest scenes towards the end of a reel an early changeover seemed to happen. When scope was added right at the front of the stage the sides of the proscenium were cut back for extra width, the tabs were mainly black and hand wound and the screen was flat not curved with the top masking fixed resulting in a very cropped wide screen picture.

AllanNZ on November 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I used to go to the ABC Minors matinees held every Saturday at the Coliseum during 1948/49.

JohnGn on June 23, 2013 at 8:21 am

Following the demolition of the auditorium, a new customer service centre for North Tyneside Council, including a new library for the town, has been constructed on the site.

JohnGn on February 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

Doctor Zhivago was of course in Panavision not Cinemascope. One Wide screen film that was very poular here was Zulu, which was shown several times. The last time that I saw it at the New Coliseum, the opening scene following the titles, which features bare-breasted Zulu women performing a dance, was missing. Were there objections to this scene, or could someone have removed it for their personal collection? Curiously, despite this scene, and the violence in some other scenes, it was still given a U certificate.

Mike_Blakemore on February 20, 2013 at 4:36 am

A Reminder.. Cinemascope Films could only be shown in Cinema Authorised by (20th Century Fox) As it was their Trademark… In the early days the sound was in 4 Track Mag. ABC and the others did a kind of Scope minus 4 Track.. to get around the situation. In most cases ABC also installed festoon Curtains and installed the screen as close to the front as possible. A number of ABC sites and Independants where budget allowed got Modernisation Ltd., to build New Larger Pros outside the small one.. The Original Cinemas Equipt with Cinemascope was Granada.. Essoldo.. and the leading Independant in a Town.. Rank would not invest in Cinemascope until later… When this happened 20th Century Fox then did the dirty and moved to scope release back to Rank except where there was no Rank Cinema in a town..

JohnGn on February 20, 2013 at 3:05 am

This cinema was the last ABC cinema in the region to be equiped for cinemascope pictures. From May 1955, Cinemascope pictures that would normaly be expected to screen here were shown instead at the Essoldo and the New Coliseum did not screen them here until October 1956 when an MGM picture “Viva Las Vegas” was shown. It is possible that because of it’s origins as a theatre, it was difficult to fit a reasonable sized Cinemascope screen, which may also be why it had a rising festoon curtain (which I think was red) rather than the more usual side opening tabs. It was certainly the case that the Essoldo had a larger screen. Nevertheless in the summer of 1967, Doctor Zhivago was shown here and ran for four weeks. The last programme to be shown was Dirty Dingus Magee + The Extraordinary Seaman.

Ian on May 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

A 2009 photo of the façade of the Coliseum, at which time the housing development on the site of the auditorium had not been started.