Plaza Cinema

147 King Street,
Fenton, ST4 3NA

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David Rayner
David Rayner on March 4, 2016 at 11:57 am

Added to photos, two pages from the Plaza programme booklet for August, 1963.

David Rayner
David Rayner on March 3, 2016 at 6:14 am


I remember when we were halfway through showing ‘Spartacus’ on the last run on a Saturday night in July, 1963, the navy blue Thames Trader lorry of The Potteries Transport and Cinema Supply Company arrived early at about 9 pm when there was still over an hour of the film left to run. The driver parked up his lorry and went inside to see the last part of the film. Eight reels had already been run and packed off into an unusually large eight reel transit case and I thought I would do the driver a favour by taking the case down the steps and putting it on the back of the wagon. Well, I dragged it downstairs, one step at a time and eventually reached the car park and dragged it an inch at a time towards the wagon. I dropped the side gate of the wagon and, puffing, panting and straining and using all my strength, tried in vain to lift it onto the wagon. Just then, there was a shout from the open window of the manager’s office. “OI!”, shouted Benny Norcott, “PUT THAT DOWN! YOU’RE AN OPERATOR, NOT A TRANSPORT DRIVER! IT’S HIS JOB TO LOAD THAT ON THE WAGON, NOT YOURS. IF YOU INJURED YOURSELF, YOU COULDN’T CLAIM A DAMN THING!” I dropped the case on the ground and it landed with such force that it made a three inch dent in the asphalt of the car park and I never did anything that daft again.

I remember back in 1968 that we were showing the X certificate film ‘Witchfinder General‘ and, ten minutes before I was due to start the film I was standing by the pay box with the manager, Benny Norcott, when this young lad came in. “You’re not coming in to see this!”, Benny told him. “Well, I’m over 16”, said the boy. “You haven’t seen 13, let alone 16”, Benny told him. “Well, they let me in to see it at the ABC, Hanley”, said the boy. “Well, you’re not seeing at the Plaza, Fenton!”, said Benny. “Now get!” and the boy got!

David Rayner
David Rayner on March 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Click on Photos to see a photo I took of the Plaza in August, 1971.

David Rayner
David Rayner on February 29, 2016 at 12:02 am

I was a projectionist at the Plaza on and off for nearly twenty years, starting in 1962. The film that was showing when I started work there was the X certificate drama A Kind of Loving, starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie. At that time, there was a staff of eight, including myself and, over the years, they’ve all since died except me. Yes, I’m the only one left. Benny Norcott was the manager from 1949 to 1981 and the Plaza was his life. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if his spirit is still there and has been seen on occasion. I wonder what the old place is like now inside and how they stop the snooker balls from rolling down the slope towards the screen.

David Rayner
David Rayner on January 30, 2016 at 4:48 am

The Plaza closed on Saturday, January 9th, 1982, having been a cinema since 72 years since 1910. The last programme was Neil Diamond in THE JAZZ SINGER and Dustin Hoffmann in KRAMER VERSUS KRAMER. I have complete programme details of the Plaza from 1949 to when it closed in 1982, together with an almost complete run of children’s Saturday matinee programmes from 1956 to when they were discontinued in 1974.