Date opened: Saturday 12th December 1936
First film shown: ‘The Three Musketeers”
Date Closed: 27th May 1972
Architect: Mr T. Eager
Original Seating Capacity: 1200
The Park cinema Oldpark Road and Torrens Avenue, Belfast was built on a triangular site and was one of a great number of cinemas in the city,opening its doors on Saturday 12th December 1936, with a Charity performance of ‘The Three Musketeers”. This was followed on Monday 14th December with Errol Flynn in ‘Captain Blood’. From the Thursday, ‘Follow The Fleet’ with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was screened.
Proceeds of the two opening performances went to the Lord Mayor’s Coal Fund. It was reported that the fund was going to be a record and the generous support given by cinema proprietors in the city was a big factor in that success. It was Belfast’s fortieth cinema. It was owned by Supreme Cinemas Ltd, and was opened by the mayor of Belfast Sir Crawford McCullagh.
The cinema was built in record time, taking only four months to construct. It was designed by a Mr T. Eager. Sir Crawford McCullagh said: “I opened the first picture House in Belfast a good many years ago when I was Sheriff and I have been opening others ever since.” He went on to congratulate the builders McIntyre Estates Co from the Antrim Road Belfast. On the same day the Park made its debut the Curzon and Broadway cinemas opened their doors. The stalls were approached directly from the lower foyer, which was on the large side. There were two staircases leading to the balcony lounge. Seating was for 1200 and all the seats were tip up. There was ample leg room provided with a gap of three feet between rows. The lower foyer had floor of Roman Stone terrazzo. Elsewhere the theatre was carpeted luxuriously and was coloured in a shade of rust red, which went with the golden brown of the upholstery of the seating, which was supplied by Lees, Hyman and Lees Ltd, Corporation Street Belfast.
Plastic paint was used extensively. The walls in the foyer were in shades of cream, gold and pink, relieved by horizontal lines of silver. The base of the walls were in darker tones, and horizontal lines of gilt were in contrast with the lines of silver above. The ceiling and the tabs were silver. The proscenium opening was flanked by grilles, each grille in turn being flanked by a tall panel, having decorative motifs and flutes. These were in gilt. The surrounding of the proscenium was heavily silvered.
The cinema was equipped with Holophane lighting and the use of gilt and silver tones on conjunction with the Holophane gave brilliant lighting effects. Lights placed along the front of the balcony projected their rays on to the silver ceiling, which reflected the light down into the auditorium.
Up in the operating box were Kaplan projectors and Ashcraft carbon arcs, supplied by Jack Roe. The cinema suddenly closed in 1971 and re-opened on the first of May1972, but was badly damaged due to the troubles at that time and closed for good. The building remained empty and later demolished. In 2018 it was a car park.
David A Ellis@chestercinemas.co.uk