High Street, Gosforth,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
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With its white and blue plaster work, glass dome and colourful neons, the Royalty Cinema was a familar landmark on the old A1 road, in the Gosforth district, about two miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. It opened on 17th October 1934 with a special charity event, on the screen was Roy Fox & his Band in “On the Air”. The following day it was opened to the general public, with Al Jolson in “Wonder Bar” being the main film. In its heyday, was an up-market ‘super cinema’ that could seat 1,384 people in stalls and circle levels. The proscenium was 40 feet wide. Designed by Newcastle upon Tyne architects Marshall & Tweedy, with interior decorations by R.J. Richardson, it was always an independently operated cinema.
The Royalty Cinema’s last great success was the film “Grease”, when audiences queued around the block. However, by 1981, its future was threatened by rising fuel costs. The new owners hit on the idea of hosting music concerts, alongside the films. Adam and the Ants was one of the bands that played there. However, a small number of local residents protested and the owners found themselves in a ‘Catch22’ situation: they were prepared to spend money adding extra soundproofing to the building, however there was no guarantee of a music licence even if they did that.
The Royalty Cinema closed on 30th December 1981 with a Disney double bill of “Dumbo” and “The Incredible Journey”. I was lucky enough to get to know the staff during the final months when I made a video documentary about the closure. They were a great crowd of people who loved the Royalty Cinema passionately.
The interior was left intact. But, by July 1982, it had been badly vandalised. It was later set on fire and then in May 1984 the building was demolished and flats were built on the site.
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