Shotton, CH5 1BY
The architect and builder of the ALHAMBRA cinema in Shotton was local business man John Jones. He owned two other local cinemas, the Picture Palace (Shotton) and the Co-operative Hall (Queensferry). With the help of his two sons he boasted that between them they laid 2000 bricks a day while building the Alhambra.
It had a wrap round balcony making viewing difficult by those unfortunate to sit at the extreme sides. The original total capacity was 1200 seats, which was reduced later to 915 seats.
The proscenium width measured 30ft, the depth of stage area was 50ft. There were six dressing rooms. Stage shows were presented on a regular basis during the Alhambra’s early days.
It closed during 1967. The building was demolished with a supermarket taking it’s place.
During the present housing shortage, we have heard from time to time accounts of men who have built their own cottages or bungalows, but such feats have been eclipsed at Shotton, where a theatre has been built by one man, assisted by his two sons. We refer to the Alhambra a spacious place of entertainment, which is to be opened on Christmas day. This large and substantially built edifice will stand as a permanent monument to the energy and hard work of one man and his two sons. It has been created almost entirely by them.
The man who has this remarkable achievement to his credit is well known in Shotton, where he has resided eleven years. He is Mr John Jones builder and contractor, and his two sons who assisted him are Harold and John. His daughter, May, also has done her part in the work, having sewn all the window curtains and upholstered many of the chairs.
About five years ago Mr Jones conceived the idea of erecting the Alhambra and drew up plans of the proposed building, but was not able to proceed with the work on account of the war. In August 1919 a start was made. A piece of land abutting on Chester Road, Shotton, 175 feet long by 66feet wide was bought. The next thing was to dig out the ground for the foundations, but as the ground was very hard, they did not have to go deep. Reinforced concrete foundations were laid for the hall, which is 97 feet long by 66feet wide. The outer walls are built of ordinary brick, two feet thick, and rise to a height of thirty-four feet. For three weeks Mr Jones employed a labourer, but the latter gave up at the end of that time, and Mr Jones then brought his sons into the work. Speaking of the great assistance they had rendered him, he remarked to an Observer representative the other day, “Talk about work – they are a treat.” The building has a circular roof, supported by steel trusses. These trusses, of which there are nine, are all about two tons in weight, and Mr Jones and his sons alone hoisted them into place. There is a large balcony of concrete supported by steel girders, with seating accommodation there for five hundred people. The well of the hall will hold six hundred people, so, that altogether the theatre will easily contain a gathering of 1,200 people. People can better realise the immensity of the task, which has been performed by the erection of this building when it is known that altogether the material used weighs over 2,500 tons.
All the girders and other steel parts were bought in the raw state, and put together on the premises by Mr Jones. A large lounge has been provided for patrons and there are nine dressing rooms. There are eighteen exits. Mr Jones’s eldest son Harold has done most of the woodwork, which is chiefly mahogany. Even the window frames are of that wood and the front of the circle and boxes are of polished mahogany panels. The stage itself is forty feet by forty feet, with an opening to the auditorium 28feet wide by 24 feet high. It will accommodate the largest company travelling, including The Whip and The Still Alarm. The whole building is lighted by electricity made on the premises by a Cromley crude oil engine, which supplies seven hundred lamps.
A few weeks ago, in order to complete the work in time for the opening on Christmas day, Mr Jones employed a few joiners, but apart from them, there has been no work done outside the family. The first performance will be variety turns. Pictures will also be shown. Mr Jones came to Shotton eleven years ago from Silverdale North Staffs to start in business as a building contractor. After twelve months residence he built the Shotton Picture Palace, which is at present owned by himself and relatives. He is a man who neither smokes or drinks and during the whole of the time he has been engaged on the Alhambra he has not missed a day at work, except when away buying material.
Now, the job having been completed Mr Jones finds himself famous, for the whole country has read of his achievement and marveled at it.
Peter Wilcock was a long serving Chief Projectionist.
To read about his marvelous contribution to the ALHAMBRA & other Deeside cinemas CLICK on the above picture.
Roger Shone/David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk