Our Latest Update ~ SEPTEMBER 2019


Sharing the 80 year anniversary with “The Wizard Of Oz” this year is the epic movie “Gone With The Wind”. The film tells the story of Scarlette O’Hara,the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. It follows her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and her subsequent marriage to Rhett Butler.

Filming was delayed for more than two years because of the producer, David O Selznick’s insistence to hire Clark Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, and the “search for Scarlett” led to 1,400 women being interviewed for the part.

Production was difficult from the start with directors being hired and fired.

In production ~ “Gone With The Wind”

The leading roles are played by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard(Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie). The original screenplay was written by Sidney Howard and underwent many revisions by several writers in an attempt to get it down to a suitable length.


The film received good reviews when released in December 1939, although several reviewers found it to be far too long as it ran for 238 minutes (1939 version). The casting was excellent, and in particular the part of Scarlette seemed to fit Vivien Leigh like a glove.

At the 12th Academy Awards, it received ten Academy Awards from thirteen nominations.

About 300,000 people came out in Atlanta for the film’s premiere at the Loew’s Grand Theatre on December 15, 1939

Gone with the Wind was immensely popular when first released. It became the highest-earning film made up to that point. For many years Gone with the Wind  was claimed to be the highest grossing picture of all time, and held the record for over a quarter of a century. In recent times other films have challenged this record, such as “Avatar” and “Titanic”.

It seems to be the Marmite of movies, (either you love it or hate it). The choice is yours.

Click on the above frame to play the trailer

First shown in Chester at the ABC Regal cinema in Foregate Street.




After briefly pursuing an acting career when she took a leading role in The Chester Mystery Plays, Pat started work at the ABC cinema in 1963. She had a long & varied attachment to the theatre and cinemas in Chester. Working as usherette and then cashier at the ABC during the hectic start of the pop concerts, she also worked at the Royalty Theatre in City Road.

During the mid 1960s Pat was cashier at the Odeon as blockbuster films such as “The Sound Of Music” & “Mary Poppins” were screened, issuing tickets at a quantity and speed that would make todays cinema managers gasp for breath!!

After leaving the Odeon when she married, she returned in the 1970s as Pat Davies to continue working at the Odeon where here husband was the chief projectionist. Among staff she described as “brilliant!”



The projection team at the ABC Savoy Birkenhead

The chief projectionist and his team are pictured at the ABC Savoy Birkenhead, beaming with pride after winning the 1960 Best Kept Projection Room for the region. The following year it was awarded to Chester’s ABC. Our Facebook group members said ~

Peter Lawley- “At Coventry Showcase Delux ( and bless Showcase for upgrading) the £800000 projector started the show with no screen sound, only surround channels for an 11am show.
I leave the auditorium to complain. Quite a long walk to the box office.
They agree to restart so I and several other complainants return to our seats. Five minutes later, they restart the show from the moment we left, just like a dvd had been paused at home to make a cup of tea……But I have to say it’s a really fantastic show for the eyes and ears……. when it works!”.

John Rendall- “They could certainly tell the modern so-called projection folk how to do the job. A little story for you here, at a certain cinema chain last year my grandson and I were ‘supposedly’ watching a 3-D movie, complete with the glasses firmly on our faces. That was a challenge for a start combined with my essential varifocals. After about ten minutes I said to my grandson: “It’s defo not a 3-D print”. Thirty seconds later the screen went dark and one of the front of house ladies ran in and apologised that it wasn’t in 3-D. “Ok” we said, “but please can we just carry on from where it was stopped?” The reply: “Oh no, it has to restart from the beginning”.

Gareth Hughes- “Barely 6 staff in an entire multiplex now, never mind in the box. On one visit to Vue Cheshire Oaks last year, I had to go and find one of the FOH staff part way through the ads to tell them that we had sound but the projector lamp hadn’t struck. Much confusion ensued (including me chipping in with a couple of bits of advice, as it was clear that none of the staff had a clue!) – eventually they admitted defeat and that among the entire duty staff they had no idea how to get the projector running and refunded everyone.

David A Ellis- “Trying things on the cheap doesn’t always work and they can often come unstuck having egg all over their face(s). Cutting corners is never a good idea”.


from our FB group member- Phil Evans


Some relatives over from Australia in London took this photo yesterday whilst visiting they’re old home.
This was the Odeon cinema in Harrow just down the road from where they lived .
Was originally the Grosvenor cinema before becoming part of Oscar Deutsch’s chain in the 50’s


Keith Addis was a well known and respected front of house staff member at the Odeon during the hectic 1970s when the building was changed into a multi screen venue. Never daunted by controlling the massive queues through the tiny entrance hall, Keith played a major role in the smooth operation of the business that was thriving and vibrant at that time. He was a wealth of information regarding anything that the customers wanted to know about the films on the BIG screen. Keith lives in Chester and enjoys a well deserved retirement.


The Demise Of The ABC Regal ~ once Chester’s most opulent “Super Cinema” 

The once splendid Regal cinema – now owned by PRIMARK

The once Grand exterior of the ABC cinema now looking in a sorry state. It has been like this for some time even though the building is in use. What do the tourists think?

David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk



Richard Blanshard was born in Essex and grew up in Pinner. He is an all rounder, having worked in music and film. He left school at fifteen and first worked for Kodak in their motion picture department. He has won a number of awards, including the Arri John Alcott award. He has worked with many notable film directors, including Fred Zinneman and Brian De Palma. Asked what cameras he uses, he said, they include the Red Dragon and Red Weapon. Sony is used for his still work and he helped them launch their Alpha range. Nikon was the camera of choice when he shot film. He has been an honorary friend of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) for over fifteen years. He regularly supplies them with images he has taken at their various functions.

David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk


Nearby cinemas ~ Odeon/Astra Llandudno


Astra Llandudno

A local coach operator Zack Brierley commissioned the Llandudno architect Arthur S. Hewitt to design this magnificent building. The Winter Gardens cinema/theatre opened on 25th March 1935.  A Christie 3Manual/8Rank organ was installed.

Singer and Britsh film star- Gracie Fields gave a live telephone message of good wishes which was relayed to the audience through the speaker system at the opening event.

Odeon Llandudno

The underwhelming dull exterior gave way to a overwhelming Art Deco interior. Seating was provided for 1,074 in the stalls and 809 in the balcony. The proscenium was 40 feet wide, the stage 30 feet deep and there were 14 dressing rooms. The cinema boasted a cafe.

Running into financial difficulties after just 18 months of operation, Zack Brierley sold the building to Oscar Deutsch, owner of the Odeon Cinemas Ltd. He renamed the cinema as Odeon during 1943,  while the ballroom continued under the Winter Gardens name.

The Beatles appeared on stage for  six days from Monday 12th August 1963.

As the Astra cinema 1971

Owners of the Odeon, the Rank Organisation, sold the building to the independent Hutchinson circuit on 13th October 1969 and it was re-named the Astra cinema.

Hutchinson quickly introduced a Summer only opening (Llandudno being a seaside town) during the early 1970s.

The Astra Cinema closed in October 1986 and in 1988 the Christie organ was removed from the building into storage for possible preservation. Whilst in storage the instrument was destroyed.  The building was demolished in the late 1980s.

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When we think of wilful damage in cinemas, people of a certain age will hark back to the 1950s and the early days of rock and roll, when images of a gyrating Bill Haley was beamed on to cinema screens. Bill was knocking out Rock Around the Clock while some youngsters of the day were knocking out the stuffing In the seats. Many cinema owners and managers dreaded showing the film because of its reputation of stirring people into a frenzy. But Rock Around the Clock certainly wasn’t the start of cinema vandalism.

Looking back there were many occasions when seats and other items had to be replaced or repaired. No doubt there was always an element of vandalism from the first showings in the early twentieth century. In 1933 In Cheetham Hill, Manchester, a cinema had ash trays torn out and seats slashed. The manager said: “Every morning we find that about half a dozen ash trays have been pulled from the seats.” He went on to say, “Chewing gum is also a problem, being stuck to seats, which occurs in the expensive ones as well as the cheaper ones. Also the gum is thrown in the carpet and trodden in.”

In 1943 the city of Chester, all cinemas except the Tatler were experiencing expensive trouble. The trouble in war time was getting replacements. Mr E. Rhodes, who was manager of the Odeon said: “These idiots, by making replacements necessary, are impeding the war effort.” On his desk were assorted pieces of rubber, torn from the arms of seats. Sometimes several men would spend whole mornings looking for damage. On one occasion at the Odeon someone tampered with the taps, completely flooding the area.

Losses in rubber in the seating at the Regal were replaced by wooden arms. On top of that many lamp fittings and other things were taken. Fan mania seemed to have gripped some of the moviegoers, with the loss of still pictures, which adorned the entrance hall. Back then, at the Gaumont Palace it was reported that twenty pounds worth of damage had been done. This was quite a sum back in 1943. The same year the Music Hall reported that in one night, ten seats were stripped of bolts, and the arms were slashed for the rubber pads.

At the Brook Street Majestic the damage had been worse, where in a six month period over one hundred seats had been slashed. Back in 1951 the manager of a Southwick cinema, Mr G. Oliver, offered a five pound reward to anyone who would supply information about the vandals. He said: “A lavatory that had only been opened the previous week had been the latest target with the walls containing a mass of scribbling.”

In 1954 known or suspected trouble makers were banned from West Hartlepool cinemas. Trouble was reported at the Regal where many seats had been damaged and cloak room equipment had been damaged or stolen. Today there is CCTV, which helps as a deterrent but back then culprits would be harder to trace.

David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk