Monico Cinema

Pantbach Road,
Cardiff, CF4 1UG

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Additional Info

Operated by: Jackson Withers Circuits

Architects: William S. Wort

Styles: Art Deco

Nearby Theaters

The Monico

Opened on 19th April 1937 with Gary Cooper in “Lives of A Bengal Lancer”. It had an original seating capacity of 950 in stalls and circle and after a period of operation as an independent it became one of the small Splott Circuit’s suburban cinemas in Cardiff.

The Monico Cinema survived as a twin screen cinema (seating 433 and 156) until closing on 30th January 2003 under the management of Circle Cinemas. The building was demolished and a block of flats was built on the site.

Contributed by geoff

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

geoffjc on January 22, 2011 at 2:23 am

Brian Bull installed an electronic organ in the larger screen when he twinned the Monico. I think it was a “Conacher”(or something similar). It was placed in front of the screen curtains as if it was a Compton or Wurlitzer.
If anyone has the date when Circle Cinemas acquired the Monico it should be possible to find the press cuttings advertising the 4-track magnetic sound screenings which probably took place before the twinning and Dolby installation.

Update to the opening film still awaited!

edithapearce on January 22, 2011 at 3:52 am

The Monico’s four track magnetic sound system was in place when I was doing casual work at the cinema in the early part of the 1960s. I can never ever recall it being used or even a hearing a mention of it being used in past times. The amplifier, in a tall silver cabinet, stood at the back of the box adjacent to the tall black cabinet that contained the Westrex Sound System. The grey magnetic sound head pickup boxes on the projectors were located below the optical sound heads. The Westars and optical boxes required a two finger loop between the feed sprockets. The magnetic units requiring a three finger loop. The Monico projectors had a fast take up from the start so it was common to lace the leaders with six in the gate.

AdoraKiaOra on January 22, 2011 at 4:23 am

The Plaza Swansea had a magnificent organ.

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on January 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

Just had another look at my video,there was an organ as verified by Element54,could not tell the make of the instrument. I never saw the Monico inside or out except for photographs but I had no reason to make this up.

AdoraKiaOra on January 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Any pics anyone can post here????

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on January 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Hi SeanP, Unable at the moment to transfer my video on line, hope to do so soon.

Plaza1985 on January 31, 2011 at 2:17 am

Hi Sean,

I have a 2003 Wales This week 25 minute special on the Monico closing (it’s all in English). It’s similar to the one aired for years earlier about Plaza closing, but more solely about the Monico.

I’ll try and post it to my YouTube channel in the next few weeks and send a link here too.


Sean Pursey
Sean Pursey on January 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

Thanks Alex, that would be great!

edithapearce on February 25, 2012 at 12:06 am

This morning a friend sent me a photograph of the Monico taken shortly before the cinema closed. It came as quite a surprise to me. In my days at the Monico (1960s) the entrance to the cinema was at the bull nose facing directly at the point where Tyn y Parc Road and Pantbach Road junctioned. The brown stained pay box,occupied by long serving cashier Marge, directly faced the entrance.To the right of the pay box was the sweet and kiora kiosk and again to the right of the kiosk was the entrance to the stalls. The manager’s office being at the far end of the stall’s entrance area

The picture I have received today shows the entrance having been moved to the south west of the building and obviously going through what was once the area of the manager’s office. The bull nose entrance now being replaced by a wall bearing a quad poster frame. In my day the cinema was gray concrete all over having never been painted.

The only renovation of the hall in the 1960s,as far as I can recall, was the roof being resealed and the installation of magnetic sound. I was surprised to see that so many changes had been made to the hall exterior, especially to the entrance, presumably post 1965? Were these changes a part of the hall being twinned?

Incidentally, around 1960 the then manager of the hall asked Jackson Withers if it would be possible to attach an electric motor to the masking so that it could be adjusted from the box. The answer was a firm “NO”! The miserly circuit management instead deciding that it would be cheaper to employ a rewind boy at three pounds a week who could manually under take masking adjustments from behind the screen plus do general cleaning during the day time two hour maintenance shift.

Biffaskin on June 13, 2023 at 12:29 am

Brian Bull first registered Circle Cinemas as a trading name in 1976. At that time, he was negotiating with Rank for the purchase of leases on both the Monico and the Cameo Cinema in Bargoed. Ten year leases were acquired for both starting 11th June, 1977. The Monico was twinned by Circle Cinemas between November 1979 and January 1980, the Freeholds being acquired for both sites during this time. Circle Cinemas was incorporated as a limited company in November 1982. The last cinema operated by the company was the Studio Cinema, Coleford, Gloucestershire which was sold by Circle in 2011.

Circle Cinemas Ltd no longer trades. At it’s height the company operated 9 screens over 6 sites.

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