Comments from UKmender

Showing 26 - 34 of 34 comments

UKmender commented about Unit Four Cinemas on Nov 22, 2020 at 3:42 am

The building was actually constructed to be integral with the new Arndale centre. Up on stilts, with shop units on the ground floor, front, and car parking under the rear, it was a 24 lane AMF bowling alley, run by the Excel chain, during the UK’s second love affair with 10 pin bowling. It opened on October 8th 1964. In the attached photo, it is seen in decline, prior to closing in July 1969. It stood empty for three years before being stripped out and converted into the Unit Four Cinemas. The original entrance, to the bowling alley, was converted into a further shop unit and the cinemas were provided with a new entrance, annexed onto the right-hand side of the building. (See the header pic.) Some time later, to meet safety requirements, a long metal fire escape was added to the side wall, behind the entrance. In the header photo, behind the cinema, can be seen the original Scan Superstore. This was run, unsuccessfully, by Debenhams, before selling out to Tesco.

UKmender commented about Dancehouse Theatre on Nov 21, 2020 at 8:00 am

I only ever knew it as The Regal Twins, and was taken there often as a child and into my youth. No, Ken Roe, both houses had similar fit-out. The prosceniums were framed by a back-lit lattice-work and my over-riding memory is of Duane Eddy being played pre-show and before and after the interval. I have visited the surviving auditorium, for shows at The Dancehouse. The stage has been much extended, as can be seen in Ian Grundy’s excellent photos on Flikr. The whole building is operated by The Northern Ballet School, who use the auditorium as their personal performance space and also hire it out to other dance schools in the area. Full photos of the revamped interior are available on the Northern Ballet School website:

UKmender commented about UGC Salford Quays on Nov 21, 2020 at 6:54 am

I loved this cinema. The first real multi-plex in Manchester, if you don’t count The Regal Twins. Its fate was sealed when Peel began to redevelop the docks into Salford Quays. They wanted to include a new multi-plex in the Lowry mall and so this one had to go. It became increasingly hemmed in, especially when Trafford Rd. was raised and trees were allowed to grow, almost totally hiding its presence. During the run-down, its car parks were available for car-boot sales. People attending the sales had the use of the cinema’s toilets and foyer food sales.

UKmender commented about Studio 1 & 2 on Nov 21, 2020 at 6:32 am

It was whilst visiting The Carlton that I looked into The Mount School of Motoring, which is to the right of the cinema entrance in the header photo, above. I used to park my moped, right where that small motorcycle is in the photo. ‘The Mount’ ran Austin 1100s and my instructer was a guy called Neville, an ex-RAF bomber pilot. I passed my test first time. Happy days!

UKmender commented about Ambassador Super Cinema on Nov 21, 2020 at 6:21 am

Interesting, Mr_BTH. I also used to work with Don Collier and assisted him at The Trocadero and The Imperial. His day job was running my local fish & chip shop on Cavendish Street, Ordsall, along with his wife and kids. He it was who told me that, as Snapes were closing houses, or converting them to Bingo, The Ambassador, or simply The Ambass, as it was known in-house, was used to store all the projecting equipment removed from elsewhere. There were supposed to be row upon row of the ‘Big Guns.’

UKmender commented about Regent Super Cinema on Nov 10, 2020 at 8:58 am

To, hopefully, expand upon Ken’s comments, above, I will add my own two penn'th. As Ken says, this green and white, Spanish Colonial edifice was sited on Manchester’s main southerly arterial, Princess Road, on the very western edge of Fallowfield. Close to a main crossroads, it served not only the Wilbraham Road estate, but also a major part of Whalley Range, Withington and Alexander Park. Just around the corner, lived my mother’s parents. When she married, my father moved in with them and The Regent became their principal means of entertainment. In time, it also became the first cinema I ever visited as a child. Prior to that, on Sunday 18th August 1946, during the late-show, my mother, in the front stalls, went into labour. The show was temporarily stopped and an ambulance called. I was born early next morning, in the nearby Withington Hospital.

Unlike many cinemas, which needed external or internal steps, in order to reach the level of the rear stalls, The regent was built onto the side of an embankment. The land, at this point, had been built-up to provide a level running surface for the trams, which once ran down the centre of Princess Road on a wide, grassed, central reservation. The reservation remains. The trams are long gone. So, entering the cinema at ground level, you walked from the foyer directly into the rear stalls. The raked floor then followed the lie of the land, on down towards the stage. This eventuality must have reduced building costs dramatically. It also made for a relatively low frontal profile. In today’s world, it would also have been cosidered extremely wheelchair friendly.

When, around 1959, it became The Cresta, all the green-work of the facade was overpainted in blue. When it was closed, and eventually ‘demolished,’ I was able to observe the process from the top decks of the busses taking me to and from school in Wythenshawe. I put ‘demolished’ in inverted commas for the very good reason that it wasn’t so much demolished as converted; A bulldozer was employed to simply push the entire front end of the building down towards the exposed stage. The rear half of the building, complete with pent-roof and proscenium was left standing. For about a week the remains of the screen could be clearly seen, hanging in tatters. Fuel storage tanks were then set in place, the ‘hardcore’ levelled off, and the whole lot, seats and all, topped off with concrete. What happened then was that the remaining rear shell of the cinema had a grey, rectangular, corrugated, false facade erected over it, bearing a huge, red Pegasus. What remained of the original building had become the service garage for a Mobil filling station named The Cresta Court. A single island of pumps sat on the forecourt, parallel to the facade. Over time, that building was removed, the filling station has been completely re-modelled, twice, and the branding changed to BP. The site, however, has never been completely cleared. Much of the stalls and lower stage area, of The Regent cinema, remain encased beneath the filling station’s foundations.

UKmender commented about Ellesmere Super Cinema on Nov 10, 2020 at 4:37 am

The Ellesmere was not, actually, in Swinton but in Worsley, on the opposite side of the A580, East Lancashire Road. Built close to the main crossroads where Swinton, Pendlebury, Worsley and Monton (Eccles) meet, it had a large catchment area. Whilst each of those towns had their own cinemas, none were as large and well appointed as ‘The Ellesmere.’

Operated by G.B. Snape, as written above, it was actually part of Snape’s Cinema Circuits, who had their headquarters in a large, converted house in nearby Pendlebury. The Ellesmere was, in fact, their closest ‘house.’

The note, above, ‘The cinema had a cafe.’ is something of an understatement. Whilst the cinema did, indeed, have a cafe, it also had so much more:

G.B. Snape not only owned the Cinema and Bingo chain, he also owned Salford Rugby Club, along with its attached restaurant and nightclub, ‘The Willows,’ which was part of his ‘Stanneylands Restaurants’ chain. A very upmarket brand whose main branch was on Stannylands Road, Wilmslow. Other branches were spread throughout the more select areas of Manchester and Cheshire.

One such, fully licenced, Stannylands Restaurant was built, directly onto the right hand side of The Ellesmere Cinema. It was a large, semi-circular, opulent affair, with panoramic windows, its own entrance and car-park. There was also an entrance directly from within the cinema. Combination tickets could be purchased, which included both the cinema presentation and a table in the restaurant after the show.

It was Snape’s premier house, and it was a sad day when it was demolished to be replaced by a Premier Inn. The restaurant licence continued to be capitalised upon by the motel’s attached, canal themed gastro- pub, The Narrow Boat, later renamed ‘The Ellesmere.’ And, so, the name had returned, albeit temporarily. That building remains, in 2020, but now re-branded as a ‘Hello Hotel’ with ‘Albert’s’ restaurant and bar.

UKmender commented about Trocadero Cinema on Oct 27, 2020 at 6:16 am

As someone who knew the interior of this building intimately, I can report that much of what is above, is not entirely correct. The cinema was not built ‘on the site of’ the Rusholme Ice Rink, it ‘was’ the very same building. All the architectural features of the ice rink, and subsequent ballroom, which appear in the attached photo, remained for the whole of the building’s life. This includes the clerestory roof, which was felted over and painted black, and the orchestra gallery, which remained behind the stage and screen. The rest of the trusswork and side windows were overclad in decorative plaster, with an arched sub-ceiling. Walkways laid on the trusses gave access for maintenance and light-bulb replacement. The original rink/dance-floor remained beneath the raked auditorium flooring. Contrary to the previous comment, I can report that the auditorium did extend for part of the way behind King’s scooter shop. The tiled entrance-way, to the left, only being wide enough for the small box-office and sales kiosk. Immediately behind the raked seating was a narrow rear aisle, giving access to the toilets, staff-room and stairs to the projection box. The rest of the space behind King’s held a small parking yard with several garages built onto the right side of the cinema. These were accessed via the narrow alley-way to the right of the building. The projection box ran almost the full width of the auditorium, above the staffroom and toilets. It contained two 35mm projectors, of the ‘separates’ type. These being composed of a heavy, cast pedestal surmounted by two rails. On these rails were mounted, separately, a self-advancing carbon arc lantern, The film transport assembly and, lastly, the object lens assembly. Hung in front of these was another, separate, wide-angle lens for displaying Cinemascope and similar aspect-ratio presentations. This could be swung in front of the normal object lens, when necessary. To the right of the two, main projectors, was a single slide projector, also carbon-arc, for displaying captions. At the rear of the box was the splicing and rewinding bench, the sound amplification gear and turntable for providing pre-show and interval music. Above the turntable, on a nail, hung the obligatory ‘Fire Record,’ to be played as a signal to the staff should an evacuation prove necessary. On the wall were mounted the open winding, control rheostats for dimming the House Lights and Tab Floods. Because of the limited width of the proscenium, when ‘wide-screen’ films were being shown the screen actually got smaller. This was achieved via a motorised ‘top-mask.’ Latterly, the house was operated by Snape’s Cinema Circuits of Pendlebury, owned by G.B.Snape who also ran the Stanneylands restaurant chain and Salford Rugby Club.

UKmender commented about Savoy Cinema on Jan 14, 2018 at 10:53 am

In the new year of 2018, and fully refurbished, it is now the home of Golden Dance Studios, who have expanded from their smaller premises in Daisy Hill, Westhoughton.