THE CINEMA ORGAN FROM THE ABC REGAL IS BACK IN ACTION
Majestic Theatre Organ Restoration Celebration !!!
Its been a long time coming … almost 7 years …. but finally the beautiful 1937 Compton Theatre Organ, originally from the ABC Regal Chester, has arrived back in its rightful place in the main hall of the Majestic Theatre Pomona.
Celebrate this auspicious event on July 6th. See and hear the maestro Ron West work and play this magnificent instrument live for the first time in public. A feast for your ears and eyes. Legendary Ron will be playing all his favourites followed by a concert by renowned Brisbane Organist David Bailey. Local Pianists James Warner and Chris Rose will be tickling the ivories.
The basic, but efficient projection room of the Tatler (Classic). With its Simplex projectors, Peerless arcs & RCA sound system. Many projectionists started their training there before moving on to the larger Chester cinemas.
The early days of the moving image was the time when many far seeing entrepreneurs jumped on to the new lucrative bandwagon, building and opening cinemas everywhere. The world of cinema was a form of escapism, focusing the mind on the screen images for a few hours. Chester had nine cinemas, not all running at the same time. Fairground owner Pat Collins, who was from Boughton in Chester, opened Collins’ Cinema Deluxe’ in 1921, and was planning to open another cinema in the city, which didn’t materialise. His first cinema show in Chester was at his funfair. The show was called Wonderland and it came to Chester in 1909. Collins exited the Brook Street cinema in 1926 and it became the Majestic under new ownership. The cinema closed in September 1956 and became the Majestic Ballroom in 1957, followed by bingo in 1965.It closed as a place of entertainment after the auditorium section was demolished for road widening.
Another would be cinema that didn’t see the light of day was ‘The Scala’, advertised in 1921. Shares were on offer for this at five shillings (25p) each, and the building was to be situated near the Eastgate Bridge. An article from 1921 says the site is an ideal one being recently occupied by the buildings of the Hop Pole Hotel and other business premises. The architect was going to be the famous Alfred Ernest Shennon, from Dale Street Liverpool. He was also a director of the company, called ‘Scala Super Cinema (Chester) Ltd’. He had designed a number of cinemas and went on to design many 1930s super cinemas. The auditorium was to house fifteen hundred, four hundred of those in the balcony. An organ was going to be installed. A report says: “The organ will augment the musical endeavours of a full orchestra.” For some reason the project failed to get off the ground.
In 1923 another cinema project had been given the green light. The building was to be situated on Hoole Road at the corner of Lightfoot Street. It was to house eight hundred and sixty four patrons, two hundred and forty seats in the balcony. It would be brick with stone or terracotta facings. The cinema was to be sixty-eight feet long and fifty-five feet wide. There were to be shops either side. Mr W.F. Youd on behalf of Charles Grandage made application for the cinema. Again, another cinema that failed to come to fruition.
Finally, a cinema was built in Boughton.Cinema enthusiast Roger Shone tells me a licence was applied for before the building was finished so a licence was refused. Obtaining materials to finish it may have proved difficult after the refusal due to the outbreak of WW2. Another source says that the building was to open in September 1939 but was leased for the duration of the war as a store. The late Brian Hornsey in his booklet Ninety Years of Cinema in Chester says: “In January 1939 plans were placed before the Improvement Committee of the Council by local builder Arthur Moorcroft, for the proposed erection of a cinema theatre. A. Ernest Shennon was to be the architect. A license was requested by Moore and Dutton, and this was deferred. At a Watch Committee meeting on the 27th April it was ruled that they had no power to grant a cinematograph licence for premises not in existence. That is all that is recorded. It was built and looks like it was requisitioned on or just before the outbreak of war. If anyone can enlighten me more on this, I would be happy to hear from him or her. The building on Christleton Road, which according to Roger Shone was going to be called The Electric Palace, has been a number of things over the years, including a Blockbusters video store and auctioneers.
David a Ellis©chestercinemas.co.uk
The old fire station in Northgate Street was being lined up for a new build Odeon cinema during the early 1970s. This venture was quashed by Rank’s Board of Directors in favour of tripling the existing building.
ABC staff pictured in 1965.
Front row- LtoR- Jack Lally, Joan Hayden, Mrs.Edwards, Mal Tones. Centre of back row-Barbara Lloyd.
Back row right-Pat Tomlins.
Charlie Jones, who started as a page boy at the ABC Regal and is seen here as chief projectionist shortly before he retired. His working career was spent in that one building. His father & siblings were also employed at the ABC.