Date opened: Saturday the 26th March 1955
First film shown: ‘Take The Stage’
Date Closed: During 1970
Architect: John McBride Neill (1905-1974)
Original Seating Capacity: 1050
BELFAST was home to a great number of cinemas and in 1955 another was added to the list. The Lido was the 45th cinema to be opened there on Saturday the 26th March with a Charity Gala performance. The Lido Shore Road was the first new cinema in the city to be built since the second world war. The opening was performed by a Sir James Norritt, the former Lord Mayor. The opening saw a full house, and many stood at the back and along the sides at this 1050 seat hall, which was on one level. A special feature of its design was the special acoustic treatment of the back wall and ceiling. The cinema was run by Troxy Cinema Ltd, the managing director being a Mr Harry Wilton.
Before the opening film ‘Take the Stage’, a comedy western, there was a variety programme, which was opened by the Faulat Girl Pipers, under Pipe-Major H. Galbraith. He marched in, playing from the foyer and paraded down the aisles to the front of the cinema. Other performers included James Glenn, a tenor singer and comedian Frank Carson. Proceeds from the opening performance were divided between the Ulster Schools for the deaf and blind. These were Lisburn Road, St Brigid’s School for blind girls and junior boys Whiteabbey.
From Monday the 28th March ‘The Student Prince’ was screened. This was followed by Calamity Jane, from the Thursday. The local press said that the Lido was the first cinema in Belfast specially designed to accommodate the new wide screen, and the first impression one receives on entering the auditorium is the great width of the proscenium. Some representatives of the Variety Club of Ireland were in attendance. They included a Mr R Britten, assistant chief barker, Mr F Speeds and a Mr S Durbidge, members of the Fund Raising Committee. Architect was Mr JMB Neill. The local press said, Mr Neill has used his long experience in cinema design in an attempt to obtain the maximum comfort for patrons and at the same time keep construction costs within manageable bounds.
The main contractors were Sloan Brothers. They had been responsible for the building of a large number of cinemas in Northern Ireland. The cinema housed a large cafe-shop, which opened a few weeks after the cinema’s opening. It was described as an attractive, almost Continental feature. It was said that the Lido scheme has given this rather drab stretch of road an almost Continental aspect.
The cinema, didn’t have a long life, closing in 1970. Some sources say it was the first in Belfast to install Cinemascope. This is not so, as Cinemascope was first screened in the city at the Hippodrome from the 11th January 1954. The film screened was The Robe. The Lido was bought by the local Roman Catholic Community and became a church. Eventually it was demolished to make way for a new church.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk