Rex Cinema

Magnet Street,
Shildon, DL4 2JA

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Located in Shildon, County Durham. The Magnet Cinema was opened around Christmas 1910. The auditorium was built behind a row of terraced houses, one of which contained its entrance. It has been said that the projection box was a former bedroom! After World War I it was re-named New Magnet Cinema and in the 1920’s became the Magnet Picture House. In 1929 it was equipped with an AWH sound system.

After the end of World War II it was re-named Rex Cinema. It closed around 1960 and became a bingo club, which remained open until the 1970’s when it was closed and the building was demolished.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

terry
terry on May 27, 2016 at 10:01 pm

The Rex was enlarged at some stage via the addition of a circle when the capacity was increased to 450.

I believe that the cinema closed in 1958 and for a while it was a dance hall (it was neither large nor grand enough to be classed as a ballroom). In about 1964 it became a ‘prize bingo’ using only the stalls (the cash equivalent had already been operating at the Hippodrome since 1962).

Being a curious young lad, I ventured inside in its latter incarnation and it was apparent that there was very little under-hang below the balcony. The projection box was downstairs although the ports, whilst boarded over, were still in evidence.

I understand that Middlesbrough based Thompsons' Enterprises briefly ran the place (as the Magnet) before they acquired the Hippodrome from Gaumont British. For the record, Thompsons, in turn, also sold a number of cinemas to GB including the huge Middlesbrough Hippodrome.

According to an old Kine Year Book (1956?) to which I at one time had access the capacity given was 450, the proscenium width 18'(!)and the proprietors were Mincom (or similar) of Clayton Street, Newcastle.

I am unsure if CinemaScope was ever installed as quite a number of small cinemas which closed in the 1950’s were not thus equipped and I suspect that this may have been the case with the Rex. The locals said that the screen tabs had a ‘rising sun’ design on them although neither the pros nor the curtains remained in situ when I visited the building in the 1960’s……

One distinctive feature of the building was the large neon vertical ‘REX’ sign on the apex of the roof. One stormy night the ‘E’ was blown down and the sign remained like that for the rest of its days. Perhaps it was not to be outdone by the Essoldo at the other side of the railway footbridge where the sign often had letters unilluminated (sometimes the last three thereby suggesting from a distance that it was a petrol station).

Shildonians certainly had an inspiring choice of film venues in that part of town………

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