Manchester, M1 4PL
Date opened: Monday 6th October 1930
First film shown: “The Love Parade”
Date Closed: September 2004
Architect: Frank T. Verity & Samuel Beverley
Original Seating Capacity: 3000
THE magnificent Paramount cinema, Oxford Street, Manchester opened for business on the 6th October 1930. It was designed by Frank Thomas Verity and Samuel Beverley, known as Verity and Beverley, and originally had seating for 3000 patrons. There were 1,400 in the stalls, mezzanine 650, and the grand circle and balcony 950. The balcony and stalls seats had plush backs and brown hide seats. The mezzanine seats were all plush. It was said that Paramount broke away from convention, the walls of the theatre relieved with figures and canopied cathedral niches, which added to the atmosphere.
The paybox was situated in the centre of the main entrance, which was flanked by artistically designed display frames built into the walls. The foyer area, which housed cloakrooms, telephone kiosks and other conveniences for customers, had lighting that was concealed by the mouldings of the concave ceiling. The auditorium was decorated in a free treatment of the Baroque period. The mezzanine foyer walls were in dark red and silver. The balcony foyer walls consisted of a pale green tint. There was no expense spared and all flooring was covered in heavy Wilton carpet in a rich brown design.
The main ceiling was concealed and treated in sky blue with a white cloud effect. In addition to lighting concealed in the mouldings, there were six thirty six light old gold chandeliers. The proscenium front was in old gold with a hollow section in bright gold, illuminated by concealed lights. A four rank Wurlitzer Hope-Jones unit organ was a feature. The console was on a rise and fall platform.
Up in the spacious projection room measuring thirty feet by twelve feet were three American Super Simplex projectors, made in New York. These were installed in all Paramount theatres. The picture throw was one hundred and forty feet using Taylor Hobson lenses. The lamp houses were Hall and Connolly, and the sound system was Western Electric. The press said that it is believed that it was the first theatre in Manchester to install a Brenograph effects machine. The equipment was installed by Frank Brockliss Ltd through their Manchester manager Mr W Chilton.
The opening attraction was ‘The Love Parade’. The Paramount Symphony orchestra, consisting of twenty four players and under the direction of Mr Lionel Falkman gave a find rendering of Tschaikovsky’s 1812 overture. There was also a stage ballet. At the time of opening there was a staff of 200 and performances were from 12noon until 11pm.
Following the performance there was a reception for hundreds of guests at the Midland Hotel and dancing was enjoyed until the early hours. Some Paramount theatres, including Newcastle, were taken over by Odeon in November 1939. The Liverpool Paramount wasn’t taken over by Odeon until 1942. The Manchester cinema was named Odeon in 1940.
In 1973 it went the way of many 1930s cinemas and was carved up into several screens, first as a twin, and ending up as a seven screen cinema in 1992. In 2004 it was all over for this magnificent building, having screened moving pictures for seventy-four years. It was considered for listing but had been altered too much. The building sadly suffered the fate of so many others and fell victim to the demolition ball.
David A Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk