ABC Haymarket Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne,
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Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd.
Architects: George Bell
Firms: Dixon & Bell
Previous Names: Haymarket Cinema
Originally opened as the Haymarket Cinema with Tom Walls in “Just Smith” on 21st December 1933. A project of Dixon Scott (who also commissioned the News Theatre on Pilgrim Street, now operating as the Tyneside Cinema), this was originally a comfortable city centre cinema of modest capacity (1,280 seats) which played second-run product. Its architectural style was Egyptian with interior decorations by M. Alexander & Son which were inspired by a Cairo cinema. The foyer featured friezes of camels & palm trees. There was a box located on each side of the proscenium at circle level. Dressing rooms were located under the stage. The booking policy was to play the best of what had been relinquished by the city’s main cinemas at that time, namely the Paramount(later Odeon), Queens Cinema (Queens Cinerama Theatre), Pavilion Cinema, Westgate (later Gaumont) and Stoll Picture Theatre (now Tyne Theatre and Opera House).
The owners claimed that the building was quite capable of seating 1,700 people, but that they wanted the best in comfort and legroom for their patrons.
Associated British Cinemas(ABC) acquired the property from Dixon Scott in September 1935 and extended its size considerably by lengthening the building. The alterations included the transfer of the projection suite from the circle wedge to above the rear circle and removal of the boxes beside the proscenium. The enlarged capacity was 2,013 and the new booking policy was to play first run M-G-M, Warner Bros and, naturally, Associated British Pictures when it reopened on 31st August 1936. The Haymarket Cinema suffered some damage from a fire in April 1942. Repairs were carried out and it reopened on 7th December 1942.
Although the ABC Haymarket was always a very busy cinema, it was to become disadvantaged by being compulsorily purchased by Newcastle University in the early-1950’s and leased back on relatively short leasehold periods to ABC subsequently. Newcastle University was never in a hurry to utilise the site to extend their premises but, by the same token, were not prepared to relinquish ownership of the building either. On 7th March 1971 the European Premiere of “Get Carter” starring Michael Cain was held at the ABC Haymarket. The film, which was filmed on location in Newcastle upon Tyne played for several weeks at the cinema.
Due to its short leasehold, ABC were never prepared to inject large capital sums into the building by widening the relatively narrow proscenium during the wide screen era of the 1950’s and 1960’s or by subdivision during the conversion era of the 1970’s and 1980’s. For this reason (and to retain a foothold in Newcastle) ABC, by now part of EMI, acquired the twinned Essoldo Cinema on Westgate Road in 1974. ABC programmed this very nice (and up to date) twin in conjunction with the ABC Haymarket Cinema until the latter’s closure on 20th September 1984, the final film was Prince in “Purple Rain”.
A rather sad end for what had once ranked as one of ABC’s busiest and most profitable cinemas in Great Britain. It was demolished in March 1985 with only the lower portion of the façade remaining. This was removed in 1987. The site became a car park for the University.
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