The Collins new Cinema De Luxe opening film. Ivor Novello starred in Carnival.
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 a Mr W. Mathews Jones and a 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 a Mr Jack Locker and the last in 1956 a Mr 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.
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.
David A Ellischestercinemas.co.uk
Patrick Collins, known as Pat Collins was regarded as the King of showmen, having run a successful fairground and cinema business. Collins was born in Chester on 12th May 1859 and attended St Werburgh’s RC school. Later, he presented the pulpit to the church and made many gifts there. He moved to the Midlands and became a Liberal councilor in 1918. He became a Liberal MP for Walsall from 1922 to 1924. In 1920 he became president of the Showman’s Guild until 1929. He was an alderman in 1930, and became mayor of Walsall in 1938. In 1939 he was made a Freeman of the borough of Walsall.
As a ten year old boy, Collins, who was one of five children travelled the shows with his father John Collins, an agricultural labourer. At twenty one he operated his first children’s roundabout, which was hand operated. Collins, who had great affection for his home town would visit Chester at least once during race week. He went on to run fairs all over the UK, including a seasonal one at Barry Island in South Wales. Pat Collins Ltd was formed in 1899.
Every year the Pat Collins fair puts in an appearance on the Roodee, during the May races. The fair, which is still known as Pat Collins’ fair, is run by Anthony Harris. He took full control and sole ownership in 1983.
Collins married his first wife Flora Ross in 1880, when she was just 17. They had one son. Flora passed away in 1933 aged 69. She was the daughter of a watchmaker from Wrexham. Collins ran a number of cinemas, including five in Walsall, the Olympia Picture Palace Darlaston, the Grosvenor, Bloxwich, later taken over by Oscar Deutsch, under the title The Picture House (Bloxwich) Ltd and The Pat Collins Cinema deluxe in Brook Street Chester from 1921 until 1926. It is said his involvement in the cinema business appears to be that of an investor and proprietor. He never got involved with the Cinema Veteran’s Association.
In 1920 the staff of the Olympia had their annual Sunday trip out and though Collins couldn’t attend he wrote out a cheque for a substantial amount towards it. He was generous in so many areas. His son Pat Collins junior was also involved in cinema and at one point ran the New Brighton Tivoli and Palace.
Collins first presented moving images in 1899/1900 when he took over the ex wall and Hammersley’s ghost show. Collins went on to present Wonderland 1 and two, built by Orton ans Spooners of Burton upon Trent. These ran until 1914. Collins re-married In 1935 at the age of 75 to a Miss Clara Mullett, aged 54, who was his secretary.
Collins died on the 9th December 1943.There were more than two hundred friends, who filled St Patrick’s Catholic Church at Bloxwich. Six years before his death he was offered a knighthood, but refused it. It was in recognition of his great benefaction to Birmingham and other hospitals. It was said by Walsall town council, “We have said goodbye to the man with the golden heart.” They recorded their grateful appreciation of the unremitting services Ald Collins rendered the town in twenty eight years of public life. At the time of his death the business was estimated to be worth £250,000. He left £72,419 in his will.
David A Ellischestercinemas.co.uk