Ivor Novello

The Collins new Cinema De Luxe opening film. Ivor Novello starred in Carnival.

The founder of the Collins’ Deluxe cinema in Brook Street, Chester.

DAVID A ELLIS writes~The Collins Cinema De Luxe in Brook Street, owned by fairground operator Pat Collins made its debut on 18th April 1921. The architect of the 1,160-seat cinema was Mr W. Mathews Jones and Mr H. Moorcroft built the front. Lady Arthur Grosvenor opened the cinema, which was a short distance from the Gaumont, which arrived ten years later. Lady Arthur described the building as handsome and spacious.

The frontage was Tudor style and over the entrance hall was an ornamental canopy of ironwork and glass. The foyer floor had black and white marble tiles and the auditorium, which was 106 ft long and 54ft wide had a black and white terrazzo floor. The walls had a dado of embossed paper.
Lady Arthur was presented with a silver rose bowl inscribed ‘Presented to Lady Arthur Grosvenor by Mr and Mrs P. Collins as a souvenir on the occasion of opening Collins new Cinema De Luxe, Brook Street April 18th 1921”.
Collins, noted for his generosity donated the takings from the first performance to the YMCA Bishop’s Palace Fund. The first person to manage the hall was Jack Locker and the last cinema manager in 1956 was Alfred Newton.

The opening attraction was ‘Carnival’. The film had musical accompaniment by a Mr J. J. Proverbs and his orchestra. It was advertised as the first class picture house for pictures and music. In 1926 Collins pulled out of the cinema and the name was shortened to Cinema De Luxe. On the 26th June 1926 it closed with the film ‘The Sporting Chance’. After alterations and redecorating it re-opened as the Majestic on the 12th July with ‘Lady Robin Hood’. The cinema was now run by Majestic Picture House (Chester) Ltd. A Mr J. W. Taplin was one of the directors and at that time the manager was a Mr H. W. Ledger.


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The Majestic was the only cinema in Chester to have a rewind room below the projection room. Mr Jack Lightfoot had a brother, Harold, that worked at the cinema. Jack said that reels were attached to a fishhook and hauled up to the box.
In 1929 General Theatres took charge and the cinemas first sound film was ‘Three Live Ghosts’ presented on the 12th May 1930. The last silent offering was ‘China Bound’. In 1948 Circuits Management Association ran the cinema. The projectors rolled for the last time on the 29th September 1956. The final feature was ‘Woman’s World’.

The hall became the Majestic Ballroom, opening on the 15th March 1957. The first music was provided by Roy Williams and his orchestra. In 1965 dancing went and bingo came. It was eyes down from the 29th August. Bingo was transferred to the Gaumont in 1970, because the auditorium of the Majestic was demolished to allow for road widening.


The Majestic as a Bingo Hall

The basic bingo stage setting at the Majestic



The side of the Majestic cinema in Brook Street that was seldom seen. The auditorium was a respectable size (1,160-seats), and was kept in a fairly good state of repair by the then owners…Rank.

This 1969 photograph shows it in an area that was being demolished to make way for the link road towards Chester’s ring road, soon after this picture was taken it too was demolished, leaving the Brook Street frontage intact.
The bingo operation was transferred to the ex.Gaumont cinema/ bowling alley, a short distance away in the same street.

The rear of the Majestic cinema seen shortly before demolition c. 1969


David A Elliscopyright