Comments from ArtDirector

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ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Odeon Pennine Derby on Jun 21, 2021 at 12:28 pm

This was the best cinema in Derby. The projectors were remotely operated from a position to the audience’s right of the projection room. It had Cinemecannica Victoria 8 duel-gauge projectors and six-track stereophonic sound. It was the best place to see a film in the town. Mrs. O'Frear was the manager, when I was in the town. I was lucky enough to see the film “Ben Hur” in 70mm on the big screen in this cinema and it was awe-inspiring.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Gaumont Worcester on Dec 14, 2020 at 5:30 am

Major revamp plan to transform old Gaumont cinema 26

News
                

27th August Major revamp plan to transform old Gaumont cinema By Christian Barnett @cbarnettWN Local Democracy Reporter

AN EMPTY historic cinema could be transformed into a music venue under new plans.

Worcester-born actor Sam Barriscale wants to raise money to bring the historic Gaumont Cinema in Foregate Street back to life as a music venue emulating its history when it hosted some of the biggest acts in the 1960s and 70s.

Mr Barriscale had been working for two years to transform the historic Scala Theatre in Angel Place into an arts cinema but after plans fell through, he has turned his attention to the Gaumont.

“Our initial plans are to make it a music venue,” Mr Barriscale said.

“I think we can get some big bands. It will bring people into Worcester.

“The different groups I have been speaking to, particularly those involved in music in Worcester, are so up for it.

“I think people are so desperate, and the lockdown has definitely exacerbated how desperate people are to have something positive happen to the city.

“It can be a place that has big names as well as local bands. It will be a chance for a local band to play in a venue that holds 700 people which is huge.

“There is a lot of love for the Scala and what I have seen so far is that people are willing to go with us on this one too. There is a lot of positivity there.

“People want to see the Arts brought back in Worcester and for it to be bigger and better.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about ABC Regent Cinema on Sep 20, 2020 at 2:19 pm

This theatre had a very attractive painted safety curtain, which should have been preserved. The architect forgot to include a projection box in his scheme and it was not until an engineer arrvived to see to fitting the projectors that this ommission was realised. The rearmost stalls area was partitioned-off to provide space for a projection room… That is why there is no projection ports at the rear of the circle in the picture.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Futurist Cinema on Sep 20, 2020 at 2:01 pm

This cinema orignally had a most attractive plaster procenium arch. There is a picture of this in one of the CTA magazines. This feature was lost when the cinema was conveted for “cinemascope”. It looked very bland after this. It is now a curry house.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about UGC Birmingham on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:56 pm

The only time I went to this cinema was to see “Hook”. The screen got smaller for ‘scope as a top mask came down as in the smaller converted silent cinemas designed for Academy aspect ratio films. I never went back as a result.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Gaumont Nottingham on Aug 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

I visited this cinema in about 1963. It had obviously been converted from a variety theatre. It was almost full and I got a seat as I was on my own. The projection room must have been at the back of the “Gods” where the “limes” used to be; the room would have already been fireproof. I was sitting in the circle and the screen was obviously leaning backwards, so the view of it from the stalls must have been poor. There were acoustic tiles on the back wall of the circle, presumably to absorb reflected sound. I was most impressed with the many boxes on the side walls. I tried to glimpse them through the cracks in the doorways opposite when I left. Sadly, I never saw it again, as it was demolished after the Odeon was split into two auditoria. It was a very sad loss of a fine auditorium. I have never found any photographic records of how it looked.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Gala Cinema on Apr 15, 2020 at 1:52 pm

This cinema had an attractive “cash register” auditorium with cove lighting running down the centre. All seats were on one level. It should have been preserved. You had to buy ice creams and sweets in the foyer. The closure was as a result of Classic Cinemas buying the former and much larger, Gaumont Cinema in Hendon Central. The tragedy was that the Gaumont was never full. One Friday I counted three people in the house for a musical. Smaller cinemas like The Gala Classic would have had lower overheads and been more profitable than the thousand-seater + houses that distributors liked.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Odeon Pennine Derby on Aug 3, 2019 at 4:39 am

The was not quite as good as the Scala in Birmingham, which was a similar design but did not have the exit adjacent to screen left. There were stage lights for the screen curtains but these were not used latterly as an economy measure. There were coloured lamps above the wall curtains which were supposed to give a multi-coloured wash, but were so close they gave a striped appearance. It was considered to be the best cinema in Derby. It was equipped with Italian, Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 duel-gauge projectors, so that it could show 70mm films. Usually the Odeon, Nottingham, had these “Road Show” films first, so that Derby did not get as much benefit as it might. The sound and picture quality were always excellent

There was much regret when it closed when the former Gaumont / Odeon, London Road was tripled.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Southern Star Cinema on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:53 pm

The story about the owner being killed by a lion in Africa was told to me by my mother, who was born and raised in Midleton, so it is probably true. I inspected this building when it was an auction house in the early 1960s. The projection ports, high on the back wall were still in place. Like the Ormond cinema, it had high windows that were covered by shutters on the auditorium side walls. Perhaps this saved the cost of day-time electricity for cleaning? My mother told me that they had improvised sound effects behind the screen operated by a local person, or two. She said that they usully played the tune “ A Whister and His Dog” during the intevals.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Gaumont Norwich on Apr 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm

This theatre did run pantomimes. It had two proscenium arches, the original one and a later plaster one inserted, further forward, to take the screen curtains when a larger screen was installed for 70mm road shows. This was later taken out of use so that the stage could be used again for pantomimes.This could be seen after bingo took over. It had a Compton organ installation under the stage, that was removed before bingo started. The same staff used to operate the projectors for both this and the Odeon. The bingo staff could relieve those at the Odeon at times before Rank sold-off the bingo halls.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Odeon Hendon on Jun 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm

This cinema boasted of its original art deco furniture in its circle lounge into the 1970s. The proscenium arch looked as though it had been altered as the plaster did not match, as though it had been reduced in height to accommodate Cinemascope. It had double doors in veneered dark wood with window openings with the squared-off Odeon ‘O’ in each door. It had a good feel to it as a cinema and it is sad that it closed, probably when the lease on the land was up.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Cannon Derby on Jun 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm

The ballroom in the former Restaurant was called the “Arnold Rudge Rendezvous for Dancing” which sounded like something invented by comedy script writers. In the 1970s it lacked much of its original grandeur. The organ had gone. The side walls looked as though much of the decorative detailing had been removed for economy or modernity. The last stage show was probably the musical, “Hello Dolly!” performed by a local amateur operatic society in 1971. The theatre had a full fly tower with the words Gaumont Place written on the back wall which survived into its Odeon days.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about ABC Hendon on Jun 22, 2014 at 9:06 am

This used to be my local cinema when my parents lived in Hendon. I was amazed at the sound of the ‘traps’ (Timpani) coming from an organ, as I was used to the ‘straight’ organ in the local church. The main house tabs were a deep plum red with a gold design of rectangles appliqued on. Latterly the screen curtains were not used and I could never decide whether this was ‘modernity’ or if the tab motor had burnt-out. I was aware of the partial fly tower over the stage and was saddened that only one play ‘The Amorous Prawn’ ever played there live. I went to see “Oklahoma!” on screen there. It was always a dark auditorium and when the house lights came up, I was the only person sitting in the circle…

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Regent Cinema on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:33 am

This was the last cinema built in South Shields before WWII. Unlike most UK cinemas it had a box-office that opened directly onto the pavement between the main entrance doors. It also had an unusual diamond-shaped auditorium. It was regularly used by the local operatic society as a theatre until the bingo management made alterations that made further theatrical use impossible. It used to have split weeks with two different programmes each week. The house lights were not on a dimmer. There were two sets of neon tubes in the ceiling, one red and one white. When the performance was due to start the white lights went out followed by the red ones. The red ones came on at the end of the performance followed by the white ones. It looked very slick. It was a very pleasant venue in which to watch a film programme.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Ionic Picture Theatre on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:34 am

This cinema was cosy and harked back to the days of silent cinema as it had side boxes which were seldom, if ever occupied. Despite its small screen it was a very pleasant venue in which to see the movies. Efforts to ‘list it’ were too late to save it. It made a positive contribution to the street-scape that the later supermarket failed to achieve.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Regal Cinema on Feb 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

I remember this cinema from when I was small and we lived around the corner. What I loved were the coloured lights in the ceiling. As the building used to be an ice rink these might well have been the compartment battens originally designed to flood the ice with changeable colours. It may have been an economy to keep these and just illuminate all of them as house lights. The cinema was reputed to have the longest ‘throw’ from the projection room to the screen of any cinema in the UK. I was very sad when I heard that it was closing.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Ormonde Cinema on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:42 am

There were two cinemas in Midleton. The ‘Southern Star’ was a silent cinema. It closed when the owner was killed by a lion in Africa, according to local gossip. (This is Ireland don’t forget!) It was still standing the last time I visited. It had become an auction room and it was at the Cork end of the Main Street. I remember that the projection portholes were still in evidence years after closure. It later was converted to a furniture store and evidence of its cinematic former self was lost.

The Ormond was according to local gossip owned by Conny Carey. It was built for “the Talkies”. It had a single tier with a shallow rake. The cinema was on a side street and the box office was situated on the pavement between the entrance doors. It was latterly operated by the |Green family. They partitioned-off the end with the splay walls and divided the auditorium into two narrow mini cinemas. The exterior from the back the cinema looked like a Dutch barn with a curved roof of corrugated concrete panels.

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Renovations loom for the TCL Chinese Theatre on Feb 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

The Chinese has already been altered. If you look at old photographs you will see that the proscenium arch was originally built narrower and there were decorative splay walls either side. These have vanished to make way for a bigger screen. Did anyone complain when this happened?

ArtDirector
ArtDirector commented about Pioneer Theatre on Aug 5, 2012 at 9:54 am

I had the building “listed” while I was living is Dewsbury and won a Public Enquirey to have it preserved.