Capitol Cinema, Belfast.


Capitol Cinema

403 Antrim Road,

Belfast, BT15 3BG

Date opened: Saturday 9th November 1935

First film shown: ‘The Nitwits’

Date Closed: Saturday 11th January 1975

Architect: Thomas McLean

Original Seating Capacity: 1094

CAPITOL cinema, Belfast.

The Capitol cinema, which was on the Antrim Road at the corner of Alexandra Park Avenue, Belfast was the third of the new Michael Curran picture theatres to be erected in the city to the plans of architect Thomas McLean. It was opened by a Lady Turner, who congratulated the owners on the splendid building. The opening attractions on Saturday 9th November 1935 were the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy ‘The Nitwits’. The second feature was ‘By Your Leave’. Prior to the opening ceremony, a half hour’s musical programme was provided by a Mr F. Mohan and his orchestra.

Proceeds from the opening performance were donated to Belfast Newsboys’ Club. Refreshments were available from the first floor cafe, which had wide Windows overlooking the Antrim Road. The exterior was finished in a cream colour. Over the entrance there was a canopy in gold and red and the same colours were used for the entrance doors and display cases, both picked out in stainless steel. Grilles were in pale green and silver. The cinema was carpeted throughout and the press said that the tip-up arm chairs seats were extremely comfortable. The main entrance doors was on the corner. The porch had double swing doors, which prevented draughts getting into the foyer. The local press said the foyer was of ample size and had a handsome box office. Off it were cloakrooms for both sexes and a central door gave access to the auditorium.

Unlike the other Curran houses there was no dome at the Capitol. Neon lighting was supplied by the Liverpool Company Vidro Ltd, which was run by a Mr David Rowan. Furnishings, including Wilton carpet were supplied by the CO-OP Trading Company, High Street, Belfast. Glass was supplied by Campbell Brothers of Millfield, Belfast. They were also responsible for the wrought steel verandahs. Electrical installation was carried out by Curran Bros of Long Lane, Belfast. Terrazzo was employed in the foyer and staircases, and was executed by a Mr Crescenzo Fusiciardi of Belfast.

Seating was for around 1,100 and on the upper floor was a suite of offices, one of them used as a boardroom for the directors of the Curran group. The auditorium held around a thousand people and lighting was concealed behind the cornice. The local press said, Around the proscenium arch and in troughs flanking the large ventilating grilles on either side of It are other lamps, and though the auditorium can be brightly lit by these means, not a lamp is visable anywhere and glare is entirely absent.

It is said that at some point it was taken over by Rank. Through the 1950s it was still run by Curran cinemas. It was eventually demolished, making way for a supermarket. If anyone can tell us when Rank took over, we would love to hear from you.

David A Ellis©