Rialto Picture Playhouse

St George's Road,
Bolton, BL1 2ED

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Rialto Picture Playhouse

According to The Bolton News “The silver screen was first brought to Bolton by Mr Fenton Cross at the end of the 19th century, showing “living pictures” at the Temperance Hall, later the Rialto Cinema, on St George’s Road.” Kinematograph Year Book for 1914 lists 8 cinemas in Bolton; but “Temperance Hall” is the sum total for this venue.

KYB 1928 lists Rialto Picture Playhouse, and that name continued through to KYB 1954 at least. Ownership was “Rialto (Bolton) Ltd” in both entries.

There was a serious fire at some time in the late 1920s. The cinema supplement to the Architects' Journal 13 November 1929 has an advert for safety electrical wiring which shows the interior of the Rialto: gutted by fire; and rebuilt.

Leslie Halliwell’s autobiographical book ‘Seats In All Parts’ describes the Rialto in the chapter: ‘Around The Fleapits With A Hammer’. “The Rialto advertised itself as ‘the cinema where you meet your friends’… was owned by the same family as the Queen’s … thrived on second features and ‘B’s, often series and always in double-bills, such films being usually short enough to pack two plus the news into a programme which ran no more than two hours and ten minutes … (the) booking policy was aimed at the undiscriminating.”

The building was (I think I recall) on bingo in the late 1970s. It has been demolished and a modern ‘Holiday Inn’ building stands on the site.

Contributed by H J Hill

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

HJHill on May 25, 2014 at 4:45 am

Leslie Halliwell in ‘Seats In All Parts’, page 314 describing his return to Bolton “in the 1980s” has this: “The Rialto had at some fairly recent date become the Apollo, but was now firmly shuttered”.

Owdfolkie on January 8, 2016 at 8:58 am

The Rialto was NOT demolished, it is still standing. These days it is a music shop – HW Audio. A great photo of the building is on their home page… https://www.hwaudio.co.uk

PeterLanky on May 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

The cinema where the music shop stands was a completely different cinema called The Royal, about half a mile from The Rialto. Both had an address of St Georges Rd.

The Apollo was in a building next door to The Rialto. As of late 2015 the building had been cleaned up from the previous mess that it was, but was still firmly shuttered.

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