Park Cinema

Coronation Street, Saltney,

Chester, CH4 8BX



Proprietors: Sydney Harrold Booth & Wilfrid Francis Grierson.

Architect:   Mr. J. H. Davies.

Date opened – Monday 21st May 1923.

First General Manager:  Charles Powell.

Final General Manager:  Mr. A. B. Close.

Musical Director: W. G. Gibson. 

Opened by:   Rev. J. Phillips and Mr. W. H. Roberts. 

First film shown:  “Moriarty”, starring John Barrymore and Roland Young.    

Capacity:  489 seats.

Park Cinema, Saltney Ltd formed:  16th September 1923.

Date closed – Saturday 2nd May 1959.

Final film shown  “The Camp on Blood Island”, starring Carl Mohner and Andre Morell.      

Building extant. Internally restructured for office use, later as residential .


The ambitious plan of local businessmen, Sydney Booth & Wilfrid Grierson was to provide a purpose-built suburban cinema for Saltney and district. Chester already had four busy cinemas, the Picturedrome, Music Hall, Glynn Picture House and the Cinema De Luxe.

The no frills auditorium of the Park Cinema, Saltney.

Architect, J. H. Davies, was commissioned to design a modestly sized building that spanned 164’ along St. Marks Road with a frontage of 60’ on Coronation Street, later known by many locals as “cinema hill”. Although it was of a basic design, several additions were included in the plans, such as an inclined floor that could be adjusted by screw jacks to a level position within minutes so that it could be used for dancing  Although well built, the construction was of a no frills basic cinema plan. Electrical installation “of the latest General Gear” was carried out by the Electromotor Co.,Ltd, of  Openshaw, Manchester. Heating and ventilation was provided by Saunders & Taylor, also of Manchester.  The main extractor was a large fan placed centrally in the roof/ceiling. The pitched roof was supported by steel braces and girders that were left exposed internally. The auditorium measured 100’x60’ and was lit by six large pendant lights. Wooden benches at the front were for the cheaper ticket holders, the rest of the seats were upholstered in red and green velvet.  At the rear there were double (love) seats. The two-tone blue paint decoration of the small entrance foyer contrasted with the maroon paintwork of the auditorium.

Park Cinema

A scene from “Moriarty”, the opening film at the Park cinema.

The Park was opened by the Vicar of Saltney, Rev. J. Phillips and Mr. W. H. Roberts who was the former chairman of the East Saltney Council, on the afternoon of Monday 21st May 1923. A typical goodwill gesture of the management gave the takings for the first performance to the Chester Royal Infirmary. The first General Manager, Charles Powell, welcomed a capacity audience of 489 patrons. A member of staff standing by the stage pulled draw strings to open the screen curtains and the first film, “Moriarty”, starring John Barrymore and Roland Young, hit the screen. A pianist and violinist provided the music that accompanied this silent film.   In later years, the maroon coloured velvet stage curtains (tabs) were motorised.

Five months later the Park Cinema Saltney Ltd was formed. The chairman was Councillor William Matthews Jones, who lived nearby in Curzon Park. Initially a further ten shareholders were listed, each with a stake of 100 shares, that included local businessmen, such as the well known Chester jeweller, Bertram Walton and the two cinema proprietors, Sydney Harrold Booth & Wilfrid Francis Grierson, along with the first cinema manager, Charles Powell and the director/violinist of the orchestra, W. G. Gibson.  A further 4400 £1 shares were offered to local investors.

The Park quickly established itself as the community entertainment venue for Saltney residents on both sides of the English and Welsh border. Locals loved it and customers travelled across from neighbouring districts. Occasionally, concerts took place with a make shift stage provided by local businesses. The Royalty Theatre supplied extra curtains and props. Projection equipment was Ninex projectors, later replaced by Kalee 8 machines.

Silent movies gave way to sound on Monday 4th May 1931 when the Park showed “The King of Jazz”, starring John Boles, using British Talking Picture sound equipment. Soon after, Deeside Enterprise Cinemas Ltd took control of the business. Three super cinemas opened in Chester during the 1930s, enticing some of the Park’s customers to their luxurious surroundings.  However, many Saltney residents remained loyal to this cinema, even if it meant waiting to see films that had been shown in Chester several weeks before. Programmes were changed two or three times a week, giving customers plenty of choice.

During the war years the cinema was also an ARP~Air Raid Precautions post. Servicemen stationed at an army site on the bank by the side of the Park could gain free admission. The management would count them and then send the bill to the forces. Sometimes during the 1940s, live performances were put on, such as Gypsy Petulengro and his Romany Orchestra.

The Park Cinema employed many local people who stayed for years and became as well known to the customers as some of the stars that appeared on the big screen. Although admissions dropped in the 1950s the Park’s business remained viable.

the Park Cinema’s staff (left to right) Joan Partington, Jessie Roberts, Johnny Owen, Joe Bolton, Bob Dixon, Nellie Willets. “as well known to locals as the stars of the silver screen”.

The cinema was in continuous operation for nearly 36 years, closing on Saturday 2nd May 1959, forced by shareholders withdrawing their support. The final film shown was “The Camp on Blood Island”.

The Park Cinema’s final film poster.

The manager at the time of closure, Albert Close, together with his chief projectionist, John Lightfoot, made an unsuccessful attempt to take over the lease. Both having worked at this cinema for many years wanted to reopen the Park as they knew how much it meant to the local community who still loyally supported it. The owners had different ideas and the cinema and its contents were promptly sold.


the final programme for the PARK CINEMA.



Remarkably the building remains. It has recently been converted from offices into 16 residential flats.

PARK CINEMA in recent years, now altered into 16 residential flats & renamed St.Marks House.




David Aspinall remembers the Park Cinema~

Saturday was an afternoon performance, whereas the pic houses in Chester were all mornings. 4d then went up to 6d. I think a lot of pic houses were called the bug hutch in those days and probably quite right as well. Front rows of seats were wooden, the rest cushioned. Remember when they unveiled the new “Cinemascope” screen and the manager asking the kids not to fire staples at the screen baddies. Staples were easy to get as the “No Nail Boxes” factory was in Saltney, so a rubber band and pocket of staples were the norm!



If you enjoyed going to the PARK Saltney, or worked there at anytime, then we will be pleased to hear from you to share your thoughts.