Gaumont Palace (Odeon) Cinema, Doncaster.

Gaumont Palace (Odeon) Cinema, Doncaster

Hall Gate,
Doncaster, DN1 3NL



Original owners:  Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, Ltd.

Architects:  William Edward Trent, William Sydney Trent.

Exterior frieze sculpture:  Newbury Abbot Trent.

Mural designs:  Frank Barnes.

Main building contractor:   

Original Seating Capacity: 2020.

Date opened:  Monday 3rd September 1934.

John Compton (3Manual/10Rank) organ was installed.  Hebron Morland played the organ on the opening night.

First film shown: ‘Evergreen’, starring Jesse Matthews, Sonnie Hale and Barry MacKay.

Date Closed:  Thursday 10th April 2008.

Final film shown:  ‘Never Back Down’, starring Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou & Amber Heard.

 Demolished:  October/November 2009.



By 1928 Gaumont-British were the first large British cinema chain controlling 180 cinemas and up to 300 the following year. The company had recently acquired the 1200 seat Majestic Cinema on Hall Gate from Provincial Cinematograph Theatres. Architect William Edward Trent, together with his son, William Sydney Trent, who had been engaged by Gaumont British in 1932 to assist his father to design numerous cinemas with breath-taking speed. At Doncaster they were tasked with a re-build on the Majestic site that produced a large venue on the corner of Thorne Road that would hold 2020 customers, at that time it was to be the largest cinema in South Yorkshire.

The impressive stone clad façade featured seven bays of tall windows set in a shallow bow. Above the windows was an eye-catching 10 metre long frieze in a bas-relief that saluted the production of film making. This sculpture was created by Newbury Abbot Trent who was a cousin of the architects.

A slender gallery was placed above the frieze with a large illuminated disc centred on the wall with the company’s initials, GB, in bold letters. Two tall fins projected out of the main façade with huge letters spelling out Gaumont Palace. Further Gaumont signs were mounted above the main entrance, on the side walls and on the stage fly tower, so there was little doubt with locals as to what the new cinema’s name was! Completing the main entrance façade were four double entrance doors that were set below a high convex canopy.
The entrance hall walls had panels inset with portraits of stars of the silver screen. The opulent Art Deco style in this area continued through to the other foyers, staircases, restaurant/ café and into the massive auditorium with what was by now a familiar theme of a Trent designed Gaumont British cinema/theatre.

Photographed from the rear circle.

In the wide auditorium the fabulous full length vertically scrolled panelling on the walls swept in waves from the proscenium, complementing the rich, deep, curvaceous plasterwork design on the ceilings which descended in scrolled coves towards the proscenium The concealed lighting, hidden behind these coves provided a subtle and pleasing effect that contrasted with the dazzling drop pendants with an array of four lamps per fitting that were suspended from the ceiling at intervals along both sides of the auditorium, giving additional direct illumination. The decoration was in soft pastel tones, predominately of a pale green hue.

Another feature was the safety curtain, painted by Frank Barnes, in which he depicted the proud heritage of the towns association with local industries, such as coal mining and railways. Barnes had also painted a striking mural of a youth on horseback which was positioned on the staircase landing in the entrance.
A full working stage that measured 67’ in width and 54’ in height with flying facilities was included. A generous complement of eleven dressing rooms ensured that artists appearing had ample accommodation. The proscenium aperture was 45’wide x 28’high.

A John Compton 3Manual/10Rank organ was installed centre stage on a lift that brought the illuminated console up to footlight level.
The Gaumont Palace Theatre was opened on Monday 3rd September 1934. The Gala Evening was witnessed by a capacity audience.

Hebron Morland

The renowned organist, Hebron Morland, played the Compton organ prior to the first feature film, “Evergreen”, starring Jesse Matthews, Sonnie Hale and Barry MacKay.

The introduction of CinemaScope in the 1950s posed few problems here as the width of the proscenium ensured that the new wide format was shown off to its full advantage.


3D played on short runs during the 1950s.

The stage was in frequent use at the Gaumont Doncaster throughout its history, becoming one of the most used in the company. Numerous International artists and groups appeared “Live on Stage”. However, one notable event took place on Saturday 20th February 1960 when Lonnie Donegan recorded his major number one hit, “My Old Man’s A Dustman”, live at the Gaumont.


From Buddy Holly to the Beatles, top groups and artists queued up to perform on the Gaumont’s stage.



The Beatles with the staff of the Gaumont Doncaster

A modernisation programme was carried out on the Gaumont during 1968, consisting of cladding over the ornate features, both inside and out.
A major decision was taken during 1973 to turn the building into a three-screen venue. A wall was built up from the stalls to the front circle. This enable two cinemas, screens 2 & 3, each holding 144 seats, to be formed in the rear/centre stalls area. The circle and seating in the front stalls were now in their own 1003 seat screen 1 unit, which retained the stage.

The Gaumont frontage as a triple screen venue.

Once the alterations were completed and the doors opened at this tripled venue, the owners of the Gaumont, Rank Theatres, decided to close the Odeon Doncaster, which they also operated, on Saturday 7th July 1973. It was expected that the Gaumont would be renamed Odeon at this time. However, the Gaumont managed to hold onto its name until it was one of the final Gaumonts to be re-branded Odeon during 1987.

The cinema business continued as a triple screen Odeon, with seating capacities increased in screen 2 (159 seats), screen 3 (161 seats) while the capacity in screen 1 had been reduced to 975 seats. Eventually the site was sold to Lazarus Properties and the cinema closed on Thursday 10th April 2008, showing “Never Back Down”, starring Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou & Amber Heard, as part of the final programme screened.
Plans were quickly submitted in February 2009 for the building to be demolished and a casino to be built on the site. Despite attempts by interested parties to save the building, the Friends of Doncaster Odeon had called for the property to be granted Grade II listed status to protect it from demolition, but this was rejected by English Heritage.

Demolition commenced in October of the same year.
As the cladding was stripped away on the frontage, the Newbury Abbot Trent frieze could be seen again. This was removed and stored in sections. A successful campaign led by Ron Curry MBE, ensured that the frieze panels were professionally conserved and cleaned at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.

The remounted frieze is now displayed in Sir Nigel Gresley Square.


Chester Cinemas and UK Picture Palaces Facebook post ~15th August 2023~

I have confirmation today from Doncaster Council that the Trent Gaumont Palace 33ft long Frieze has been added to their Local Heritage List.

A big part of the Heritage of Doncaster’s 127 – Year Doncaster Cinema Heritage.

Ron Curry MBE