Manchester, M1 5EJ
Date opened: Monday 21st October 1935
First film shown: “The 39 Steps”
Date Closed: Sunday 28th January 1973
Architect: William T. Benslyn and James Morrison
Interior design: Theodore Komisarjevsky
Original Seating Capacity: 2300
The Hippodrome Theatre closed it’s doors for the final show on 2nd March 1935. Incredibly in six months that building had been demolished and the new 2300 seat Gaumont cinema had been constructed in it’s place. Initially the building had been commissioned by Granada Theatres, however, it opened as a Gaumont cinema. A deal was struck between the Granada and Gaumont British Theatres shortly before the cinema opened it’s doors on 21st October 1935. The first film shown was “The Thirty Nine Steps”, starring Robert Donat who was born and educated in Manchester.
The Oxford Street exterior was in an Italian Renaissance style, clad with buff coloured faience tiles and dominated by striking neon lettering on the recessed read-o-graph above the canopy.The architects were William T. Benslyn and James Morrison, with the interiors under the supervision of Theodore Komisarjevsky who designed a lavish mirrored entrance hall with a grand staircase which led to the balcony.
The auditorium had seating for 1300 in the stalls, with the large sweeping circle accommodating 1000 seats. The side walls were arched with gold grill work decoration and topped off with a fabulous ornate ceiling.
The proscenium, which was framed with pilasters, was 50′ wide. The stage was 23′ deep.
The Gaumont was opened by Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale, they had previously visited the site to lay a foundation stone which stated that the cinema was to be named “Granada”, this was left not corrected after the laying ceremony.
A Wurlitzer organ (4Manual-14Rank) was installed. Stanley Tudor played the organ on the opening night. He became the Gaumont’s resident organist, staying until 1953.
A well known regional venue for the long running roadshow presentations of the 50s & 60s such as “South Pacific” and “The Sound Of Music” which played at the Gaumont for two and a half years from April 1965.
Within the week of the converted Odeon cinema re-opening as a twin cinema which was on the opposite side of Oxford Street, the Gaumont closed on Sunday 28th January 1973.
Rotters Nightclub eventually opened, utilizing the ground floor and basement with the circle area disused. A false ceiling was installed across from the front of the circle to the stage.
The building was demolished during 1990 and replaced with a multistorey car park.