Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QE
Date opened: Monday 7th September 1931.
Date Closed: 26th of November 2002
Architect: Frank Thomas Verify and Samuel Beverley.
Seating Capacity: 2604
First film shown: ‘Monte Carlo’.
Last film shown: ‘Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets’
The Paramount, later the Odeon Newcastle was described as the north’s most elaborate cinema and was officially opened on Monday 7th September 1931 with the film ‘Monte Carlo’.There was also a stage presentation by Francis A. Mangan ‘ The Ladder of Roses. The cost to build this magnificent theatre was approximately £250,000, a tremendous sum back then.
The architect was Frank Thomas Verify, F.R.I.B.A, in association with his partner Samuel Beverley F.R.I.B.A. Verify designed many cinemas, including the Paramount in Paris and the Paramount, later Odeon Manchester. The proscenium width was fifty- four foot wide and thirty foot deep. One of the attractions was the Wurlitzer three manual, nineteen ranks theatre organ, which was removed in 1964. Seating was for 2,604 – made up of: Stalls, 1,374; royal circle, grand circle and balcony, 1,230. A report in the BIOSCOPE dated 9th September 1931 says: As far as the seating is concerned, the minutest details have been considered to ensure the perfect comfort of patrons. The chairs have been specially designed following research work over three years. During that time hundreds of X ray photographs have been taken at the London hospitals to discover in which particular style of chair the maximum comfort can be obtained. Everything, even to the correct curvature of the spine has been carefully considered.
The auditorium was decorated in the style of the Baroque period and the colour scheme consisted of blue, buffs and deep rose tints, with touches of gold, silver and marble Dutch metalling, giving it pleasing colour harmony. Regarding the auditorium, the BIOSCOPE said: It can safely be said that the interior decorations of this huge theatre are among the finest in Europe. All effects have been achieved by free painting on the walls, which has been carried out by special artists from London. All pure decoration as far back as the ancient Egyptian Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Grecian Empire, and the Roman Empire originally took this form.
The building was constructed throughout of steel and concrete and almost Fire proof. The press said: The operating room has been constructed on the Roof of the building and is adjoined with the rewinding rooms, rectifying room and generating room. The situation of the operating chamber and the provision of Fire shutters renders it impossible at any time for fire to get into the auditorium itself. The whole of the projecting room is surrounded by fourteen inch walls with portholes of Fire-resisting glass. Should an explosion occur the roof would blow off before the fire reached the auditorium. Western Electric sound apparatus has been installed.
In November 1939 a number of Paramount cinemas were taken over by Odeon. The Newcastle theatre was re-named on 22nd April 1940. Many famous stars trod the theatre’s boards, including Billy Cotton, Joe Loss and George Formby. In 1954 Cinemascope was installed, and in the ’70s a number of pop stars belted out their songs. These included the Who and Rod Stewart. In 1975 like many others, the cinema was tripled, with 1,228 seats in screen one, which was in the circle area, and had been extended. The stalls area accommodated screens, two and three. There was 158 in screen two, and 250 in three. In 1980, a fourth screen was added, which had room for 361.
The building was a grade two listed building by 1999, and English Heritage said it was the best surviving Paramount cinema in Britain, with a well composed facade and rich interior with Lalique glass fittings. In 2001 Odeon built a new multiplex in the city and successfully applied to have the cinema De-listed to maximise the site value. The mighty Paramount/Odeon closed in 2002 and remained empty. Demolition began in December 2016. The front of the building collapsed into the Street. Luckily no one was hurt. Another fine cinema gone, now only to be seen in photographs.
David A Ellis ©chestercinemas.co.uk
Bolton, BL1 1TF
Date opened: Saturday 21st August 1937.
Date Closed: Saturday 8th January 1983.
Architect: W. Calder Robson and Harry Weedon.
Seating Capacity: 2534
First film shown: “Dark Journey”.
Final film shown: “Mary Poppins”
With seating in the circle for 936 and stalls holding 1598 the cinema was the largest of the original Odeons opened by Oscar Deutsch up to that date. At £49,500, it cost considerable more than previous Odeons. The architects were Harry Weedon & W. Calder Robson.
With a prominent position corner position of Ashburner and Black Horse Streets, it occupied the whole island site block in the centre of the town. The elevated front of the building was clad in cream faience tiles with borders of green tiles and black tiles at street level.. Six deep set high windows were placed above the main entrance doors topped with a giant of an Odeon neon sign.
The ceiling of the auditorium was stepped down towards the stage, with fluted or what could be described as vertical corrugation finish walls. The overall appearance lacked decorative plaster-work with reliance given to the subtle lighting to give atmosphere. However, the wide proscenium was flanked honeycomb grill work.
Organist Harry Croft opened the Compton 3Manual/8Ranks organ with illuminated console which rose from the centre of the pit in front of the stage.
The cinema boasted a large cafe. Like many large cinemas, it’s stage could be put into use for concerts and during the 1960s hosted pop shows. It became one of the early triple screen conversions during 1972, with a disappointing two small screens in the stalls area and the circle becoming the largest screen. Just eleven years later all three closed on Saturday 8th January 1983 with “Mary Poppins” in Screen 1, “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” & “Hooper” in Screen 2 and “Flash Gordon” and “Battle Beyond the Stars” in Screen 3.
The building was converted back to a single auditorium for Top Rank bingo use. Re-named Mecca Bingo it closed during November 2004 and after laying derelict it was demolished in February 2007
Hull, HU9 1EA
Date opened: Tuesday the 17th April 1928.
Date Closed: Thursday 8th May 1941.
Architect: J.F. Wharf for Freeman, Son and Gaskell.
Seating Capacity: 1600
Hull was home to a number of cinemas, including the Dorchester. The Ritz on Holderness Road, referred to as Hull’s most up to date super cinema, was opened on Tuesday the 17th April 1928. It started life as the Picturedrome, which opened on the 7th September 1912, seating 400. It was later upgraded and had seating for 600. In 1928 it was decided to make it larger and it was turned into a 1,600 seat hall. The front of the building remained unaltered; it was the interior that was changed. In an article on the opening, it states the design of the new look was the work of a Mr J.F. Wharf for Hull architects Freeman, Son and Gaskell. Some sources say it was carried out by Blackmore and Sykes, who designed the Dorchester.
The neo Greek decorative plaster-work was carried out by WJ Wilson and Son of Mansfield. The general brick and plaster-work was done by another Hull firm C Greenwood and Son. Owners were Sherburn Picture Hall Ltd and the managing director was a Mr R W Wheeldon. Seating was all tip up, upholstered in old gold velvet. The tabs were in peacock blue and could be observed going slowly through their range of colour changes to the accompaniment of the orchestra.
Extension work was carried out by Hull builders Greenwood and Sons Ltd. The opening took place at 2.30 pm and it was performed by the mayor Alderman H Dean JP. Admittance was by ticket only, and the public’s first look inside was at 5.45pm when they were treated to the film ‘Barbed Wire’.
The cinema was equipped with a three manual Wurlitzer organ, which was played on the opening evening by J Tulloch McDougall. The instrument was invented by a Liverpool man named Hope Jones. Also entertaining the first night audience was vocalist Phyllis Hutchinson of the BBC and Kingsway Theatre London.
Lighting was provided by Holophane Duo Phantom system. Projection was the rear projection type, which was a little confusing for the operator, seeing the picture back to front and having to look for the changeover cue on their left, instead of their right. Also, film in the projector had to be the other way round in the picture gate. The projectors were the Kalee 8 type, which came on the market in the April of 1928 and were supplied by Kershaw’s of Albion Street, Leeds. The arc lamps were also Kalee.
The Ritz was the first to employ rear projection in Hull. It became a victim of the 2nd World war and was destroyed by a German land mine On the 8th May 1941.
In 2012 a post office occupied the site.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk