Belfast, BT14 7GA
Date opened: 20th November 1937.
First film shown: “Walking on Air”.
Date Closed: 28th January 1967.
Architect: J McBride Neill.
Original Seating Capacity: 1250
On the 20th November 1937 the Forum Belfast run by Irish Theatres Ltd opened. It was their fourteenth cinema, seven of them in the city of Belfast. It was Situated on the Crumlin Road, and opened with the film ‘Walking on Air’. This was supported by news, comedy shorts and a Popeye cartoon. Films were shown for three days. The Monday after the Saturday opening, ‘Men Are Not Gods’ was screened.
It was the last cinema to open in the city before the outbreak of WW2. Proceeds from the first performance went to the Lord Mayor’s Coal Fund and other charities. It was described as a wonder cinema but had no balcony. It was another design by architect J McBride Neill. Building work was carried out by Sloan Brothers of Belfast. Seating, supplied by CD Harrison and Son was 1250.
The auditorium decoration was simple. Walls and the ceiling were sprayed in textured plastic paint. On the side walls was an abstract design in gold rose pink and russet. The proscenium was wide and had a surround of Reeded fibrous plaster treated in gold. The entrance foyer was forty feet wide and was approached through a vestibule and two lines of glass swing doors. The floor was terrazzo with sunk mat wells The foyer floor was covered in rubber. The auditorium ran parallel to the main road and the cafe was entered by an adjoining shop.
Power for everything in the building was provided by a generator on the premises. There were two oil engines each of fifty horse power. The electrical installation was carried out by Belfast firm Lewers, Carroll and company. They specialised in wiring cinemas.
When the cinema was twenty one years old, the chief projectionist Michael Bunting was guest of honour at the party. He was introduced on stage by the manager Mr N McLorinan, having completed twenty one years with them. Another one introduced was Mrs Margaret Maguire, who was present at the cinema’s first birthday and guessed the correct weight of a cake. The Forum closed on the 28th January 1967 and was used as a social club. In the 1990s the social club shared the property with the ABC credit union.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk