Sale, M33 7QY
Date opened: 24th February 1934.
Original owners: John Buckley Theatres.
Other owners: Mancunian Circuit, Union Cinemas Co.Ltd, Anglo Scottish Ltd, Odeon. Theatres Ltd, Tatton Group.
Architects: Drury & Gomersall.
First film shown: “My Lips Betray”, starring Lilian Harvey & John Boles.
Original Seating Capacity: Circle 517. Stalls: 1335. Total: 1852.
Christie 3c 7 unit (8 rank) organ. One stage console and one installed in the orchestra pit.
Name changed to Odeon 18th June 1945 & Tatton cinema October 1981.
Date Closed: 1st December 1984.
The building was given a Grade II Listed in November 1987.
Local entrepreneur John Buckley secured land for £5000 with the firm intention that a large and lavish super cinema was to be built on it. Immediately this set alarm bells off with local churches, police and the nearby cinema competition, who collectively instigated a campaign against John Buckley’s application and petitioned local magistrates in earnest not to grant a license to operate as another cinema was deemed to be “not required in the area”. Undeterred, John Buckley Theatres directed architects Drury and Gomersall to design this large building to occupy a prominent site on Washway Road, Sale, Manchester to provide a venue for motion pictures and variety stage presentations with a construction budget of £70.000. The theme both inside and out was to be that of pseudo Egyptian in style, hence the name Pyramid.
Despite the continuing rumblings of flimsy objections, the plans were approved and the building work commenced with completion during 1933. However, the objectors who included the Palace, Savoy and Regal cinemas in Altrincham had joined ranks in petitioning local magistrates to refuse issuing the licenses required for the cinema to operate. Then a local committee which included the vicar of St.Paul’s church gathered 18853 signatures in favour of the new cinema. A huge demonstration meeting was held at the Pyramid, which was packed to capacity with a similar amount of people crowding outside. The magistrates gave way and issued the licenses in early 1934, enabling the Pyramid to open on Monday 26th February 1934 with a stage show and it’s first film ~ “My Lips Betray”, starring Lilian Harvey & John Boles.
The cinema was by far the most elaborate built in this affluent district near Manchester. The frontage was in the form of a pylon with four stout Egyptian style fluted pillars topped with hybrid bell-type capitals, punctuated by five tall windows. A central feature was a large clock positioned upon high above the overly large PYRAMID sign that dominated the facade. Three sets of double entrance doors led patrons into a large reception foyer, with staircases to the circle and restaurant.
Having a full working stage was a bonus for cine-variety. The large auditorium seated 517 in the circle with a further 1335 in the stalls area, with a total capacity of 1852. The ornate plaster work and decoration drew similarities with the design of Graumans Egyptian, with papyrus and lotus designs extending up the sides of the auditorium walls and decorative grill work panels either sides of the stage, while above the proscenium was a winged solar disc. A series of bold plaster-work borders in an ancient Egyptian style edged the ceiling area progressing the oval ceiling itself, again decorated in the local house style. These borders concealed lamps which provided defused lighting to the auditorium.
This theme was also evident in the appearance of the specially designed Christie organ console that was movable and intended to be used on the stage. A plainer console was used in the orchestra pit. The overall appearance was one of towering magnificence, with light fittings throughout that enhanced the decoration style. Luxurious seating and carpeting completed the fabulous ambience of this theatre/cinema.
The first floor cafe was advertised as the “rendezvous for discerning folk”, and a large car park provided ample parking spaces for the well healed patrons of Sale.
Odeon Theatres Ltd took over control of the Pyramid on 21st December 1942, along with another cinema owned by the company, the Lido, Burnage, for £250.000. However it was not until the 18th June 1945 that it was re-branded as an Odeon cinema.
It carried on successfully throughout the 1940s, but met challenging times during the 1950s as cinema audiences fell away, mainly due to the strong competition of television. The larger the cinema building, the more vulnerable they became as the owners tried numerous cost cutting ways of keeping them profitable.
In October 1981, Rank showed it’s last line up of films, deciding to lease the cinema to Jack Edge, owner of the Tatton Group. The cinema was re-branded the Tatton. This was a short lived venture as the escalating running costs, coupled with the retirement of Jack Edge saw the lease reverting back to Rank, who kept the building closed.
As for the Christie Organ. The organ was purchased by The Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust in the early 1980’s and installed in the Blue Coat School in Oldham, where it was used for regular concerts until 2008.
In July of 1985 a deal was struck with Trafford Borough who bought the Odeon for £200.000, with the intention to demolish it for redevelopment. A campaign by locals began in earnest to prevent this happening. The idea was then put on hold when the Council then decided that it may be a consideration to look at the building as being used as a civic/leisure complex. Unfortunately this did not materialize. The building was given a Grade II listing in November 1987. Within a short period of time, costs to the Council were in the region of £1.5 million (estimated). By 1988 the cinema was placed on the market, advertised as for sale by tender. Work commenced by the new owners to turn the building into a nightclub known as JFKS, which opened during 1990. This venture lasted eleven years, then major alteration took place during 2001 when the franchised L.A. Fitness Centre took over the premises, using the one of the former cinema’s front stalls exits as the new entrance, rendering the main entrance redundant. The business used just the old stalls area.
A change of ownership took place in 2013, when Sports Direct Fitness Club opened.