Comments from UKmender

Showing 1 - 25 of 33 comments

UKmender commented about Cannon 1-4 on Apr 19, 2022 at 3:38 am

‘New Deansgate House’ was originally built by The Co-operative movement, as overflow accomodation for its growing presence in the city. It replaced The Deansgate Arcade. Built in the Co-op’s house style, of the time, the name continued their policy for naming many of their new-builds, across the country, as ‘New ****** House.’ The closest example, at the time, being New Century House. The ground floor, front, included a Co-op store. The letting off, of the ‘lower-ground floor’ helped finance the build. The following url is to a Manchester Libraries photo.

When the Co-op vacated the building it was renamed International House and the store became occupied by Fine Art Developments, of Holmes Chapel, trading as FADS. Since that company’s demise, the frontage has been split into various catering establishments. Whilst the cinema existed there was also access at the rear, onto Parsonage Gardens.

UKmender commented about Dancehouse Theatre on Apr 12, 2022 at 3:09 am

A much more detailed history of the building, along with some wonderful photos, is available here:

UKmender commented about Cannon Deansgate on Sep 17, 2021 at 2:22 am

The above photo is of The Electric Theatre, on Deansgate, Bolton, not Manchester!

UKmender commented about Wycliffe Cinema on Jun 3, 2021 at 8:30 am

This 1967 photo shows only the extreme right hand end of The Wycliffe Cinema’s marquee. Accidentally included in a photo of Barry’s gent’s outfitters (now defunct) the poster shows the current programme as being Don’t Lose Your Head, starring Sid James and Kenneth Williams. Based, loosely, on the French revolution, this was the first of the Carry-On series produced by Rank. It was initially released without the Carry-On prefix but, due to demand, it was added shortly afterwards. The ‘B’ feature was the American film; The Reluctant Astronaut, starring comedian Don Knotts.

UKmender commented about Trafford Picture House on Apr 2, 2021 at 2:26 am

When converted to Trafford Car Auctions, the front stalls were removed and a large portal knocked into both side walls. The stage area became the auctioneer’s podium and the vehicles were driven through where the front stalls had been. The raked rear stalls were retained, giving prospective buyers an exellent view of proceedings. The building was demolished in 1997 and the site is now occupied by a ‘Club 3000’ bingo hall.

UKmender commented about Crompton Cinema on Feb 18, 2021 at 5:11 am

During the building’s period as a night-club it was, for a time, so successful that parking became a real problem. The management duly achieved compulsory purchase of several, very attractive family homes, immediately adjacent to the left side of the building. These were then quickly burnt out and demolished, in order to lay the present car-park! Following the demise of Kwik Save, the supermarket was taken over by the Asian owned S.M.S. chain, who later adopted the, Co-op owned, Nisa Extra franchise. It was at this time that the upper, front facade, including the projection box, was removed. Finaly, ownership has now passed to Tesco’s, who now operate it under their Booker Group, off-brand,‘Family Shopper’ identity. The right-hand part of the property, once the cafe, is now a carpet store.

UKmender commented about Palace Cinema on Jan 22, 2021 at 2:17 am

This item is copied from ‘Farnworth Paintings’:

The Palace Cinema, King Street was opened on 11 December 1911 and was Farnworth’s first purpose built cinema. It had 764 seats and the Farnworth Journal described it as having ‘a generous allowance of room for those who occupy the 2d and 4d places, every corner having its own tip up seat, whilst the 6d seats covered in pegamoid, and the 9d ones in red velvet are luxurious’. The cinema closed on 8 November 1958 leaving three cinemas in Farnworth, the Hippodrome, the Savoy and the Ritz. The last film was Richard Widmark in The Last Wagon (‘Nothing could stop the last wagon coming through’). The cinema made way for extensions to Mellings Bakery.

UKmender commented about New Manchester Hippodrome Theatre on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:33 am

A wonderful theatre. As a child, I was taken to ‘The Hip’ each year, by my maternal grandmother, to see the Christmas pantomime. I missed it when it closed. The wreckage, following the fire, distressed me and I was happy to see it demolished.

The site is now a car-park surrounded by large advertising hoardings. Ironically, the largest and most prominamt regularly promotes new cinema and theatre shows.

UKmender commented about O2 Apollo Manchester on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:19 am

In answer to joncas, above, the entrance on Hyde Road was a common ploy used where many cinemas were located at busy corners. Though the main frontage is on Stockport Road, it was originally thought advantageous for the building to also have a presence on Hyde Road, directly opposite the popular Manchester Hippodrome theatre. As Ken’s photos show, with the removal of all the surrounding shops and cafes, this now looks very odd. In the original context it looked rather splendid. Both entrances were, originally, similarly decorated and both contained box-offices. The Hyde Road entrance also gave access to the integral cafe and ballroom. Some attempts were made to run it as a separate venue but it is currently abandoned.

UKmender commented about Theatre Royal on Dec 17, 2020 at 4:45 am

When it was converted to be ‘The Theatre Royal Cinerama’ the Cinerama projection screen, rather than being a continuous surface like most screens, was made of hundreds of individual vertical strips of standard, high reflectivity screen material, each about ​22mm wide, with each strip angled to face the audience. This was so as to prevent light scattered from one end of the deeply curved screen from reflecting across and washing out the image on the opposite end. Sadly, this gave the picture a striated appearance. The show also featured a, pre-Dolby, seven-track, directional, surround-sound system, such that sounds always appeared to be coming from their intended source.

The original system involved shooting with three 25mm synchronized cameras sharing a single shutter. This process was later abandoned in favor of a system using a single, anamorphic lens camera and 70mm film. The three cameras were mounted as one unit, set at 48 degrees to each other. The single rotating shutter, in front of the three lenses, assured simultaneous exposure on each of the films. The three angled cameras photographed an image that was not only three times as wide as a standard film but covered 146 degrees of arc, close to the human field of vision, including peripheral. The image was photographed six sprocket holes high, rather than the usual four used in conventional 35 mm processes. The picture was also photographed and projected at 26 frames per second rather than the usual 24, for better persistence overlap.

Cinerama film was originally projected from three separate projection boxes, arranged in the same crisscross pattern as the cameras. There was a visible overlap of the screen images, which was somewhat distracting. Any slight projection vibration resulted in a noticable loss of convergence. The single, anamorphic, 70mm system addressed all the major problems, and the two extra projection boxes were removed. At The Theatre Royal Cinerama I got to see ‘How The West Was Won’ in both systems. They were both equally impressive, but not enough to keep me going back. The main feature was usually preceded by the demonstration film ‘This is Cinerama.’

UKmender commented about Palace Theatre on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:54 am

What isn’t generally appreciated is that during the 1977 rebuild, by the Cameron Mackintosh organisation, the ‘new stage-house,’ mentioned by Ken Roe, was actually extended across the rear, service alleyway and into the structure of the building at the rear, Bridgewater House. This provided a much deeper stage, enlarged production facilities and higher fly-tower. As the attached photo shows, this extension was carried out so that, externally, it does not appear to be part of the theatre. When the plans were first submitted, there was much discussion about altered sight-lines. It was questioned as to whether those patrons seated in ‘The Gods’ would actually be able to see to the back of the stage. In fact, if the full depth of the stage is utilised, they can’t; but this is rarely an issue.

UKmender commented about Niamos Center on Dec 16, 2020 at 6:50 am

When used by the BBC, it was known as The BBC Northern Playhouse Theatre. It was set up, and used, as a recording studio to produce radio broadcasts requiring a live studio audience, there being no space at the small Manchester Broadcasting House in Piccadilly. The stage was stripped back of all decoration and contained only a band-stand surrounded by wooden sound baffles, both moveable and fixed. Lighting was by ambient, white bulbs only. There being no need for anything else. There were no wing or tableau curtains. There was a large, glass fronted box in the rear stalls. This being the Control Room, frequented by the TOs (Technical Officers) who’s job it was to mix and record the sound output for subsequent broadcast. When I first visited the building, in 1964, it was as a very new GPO telephone engineer, fresh out of my apprenticeship. My task was to provide a new Private Circuit from BH (Broadcasting House) Piccadilly, to The Playhouse theatre. Having completed all the preliminary work at BH, I presented myself at The Playouse. The doorman kept me in the foyer, for a while, before escorting me to the front stalls. Here I was told to sit and wait - and to be quiet! Nina & Frederik were on stage, rehearsing and recording some tracks. Apart from the TOs, in the box, I was their audience of one. Microphones and their associated cabling were everywhere, including ones above my head to record audience reaction. I did try to keep quiet but, after one track I forgot myself and applauded. It had to be done again! When the duo had finished their set, the doorman led me through a small door, to the right of the stage, and down into the basement. Directly beneath the stage were a row of dressing rooms. Despite there being no need, these were still complete with makeup tables and mirrors surrounded by light-bulbs. Above each mirror, in a plain batten-holder, was a red, pygmy bulb. I was shown where to install the red telephone I’d brought, and told that when the red lights were on I must make no noise. At the end of each narrow dressing room was a removable wall panel. These led into a slim access tunnel, directly beneath the stage apron. It was down this tunnel I would be running my cabling which, with hammer and staples, I proceeded to do. Halfway thrugh my task, I became aware of a banging above my head. Shortly thereafter, a head appeared from one of the dressing rooms. It demanded to know why I was ‘ignoring the red light.’ Apparently, ‘Mr. Herrman was trying to rehearse the NDO.’ Mr Herrman was, of course, Mr. Bernard Herrman, leader of the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra. And so, my job proceeded sporadically, only in the periods when the ‘red light’ was off. My second visit to the building was in 1967, as part of a studio audience. I had got free tickets, for myself and my girlfriend, to witness a recording session of ‘The Move,’ primarily for a lunctime radio show but also for the BBC recordings library. In the auditorium the sound was dreadful. On the subsequent radio show, it was perfect. Coincidentally, in one of life’s strange twists, my second wife (now ex) is Roy Wood’s cousin!

UKmender commented about Aaben Cinema on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:34 am

I only ever knew this house as The York and visited it in the 50s with my cousin, who lived nearby, whenever I stayed over on weekends. My one lasting impression of the place was that it had a very small, postage stamp, screen compared to others I frequented.

UKmender commented about Rusholme Theatre on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:20 am

As a correction to John’s synopsis, above: The building’s use as a ‘Tramshed’ actually ceased in 1903 but it was retained for other purposes, by the Manchester Carriage & Tramways Company, as a riding school and livery stables. (OMNIBUSES and CARRIAGES of every description, on hire at resonable rates.)In 1924 it became the Rusholme Repertory Theatre. I, too, fail to recognise the above photo. The Rusholme Cinema, or just ‘The Rush,’ to the locals, had the tidiest exterior of the three houses on that stretch of The Curry Mile. Following the demolition of the wrought-iron arcade, shown in the other photos, the building became set-back from the road, with a wide paving in front.

UKmender commented about Casino Cinema on Dec 16, 2020 at 4:46 am

Following demolition, the site remains anything but ‘vacant’ as stated. Vacant of a building it may be, but sited as it is, directly opposite the stem of a very busy ’T' junction, it now earns more regular revenue than it ever did as a cinema. It is a prime advertising site, leased to the agency Classic Channel. It hosts two large hoardings, one of which is now a digital TV screen. Sadly, during 2016 it was allowed to become run-down due to lack of maintenance. That has since been addressed.

UKmender commented about Imperial Picture Theatre on Dec 16, 2020 at 4:09 am

Operated by G B Snape’s, Snape’s Cinema Circuits of Pendlebury. Projection equipment was a pair of SUPAs, converted to argon lamps. The transport take-up was reversed, requiring a half twist on rewind. When I helped out there the bowden cable, cross connecting the projector shutters, had broken. Rather than replace it, the chief operator had rigged an alternative system across the insides of the box ports. This comprised a length of electrical conduit tubing, loosely supported in saddles. From this tubing hung two squares of asbestos. On the change, the tubing was grasped and slid sideways. Thus covering one port and exposing the other. Crude but effective. Instead of tabs, the proscenium had a ruched blind. Under the orange floods it looked extremely sumptious and much more classy than some other houses.

UKmender commented about Palace Cinema on Dec 12, 2020 at 4:49 am

Located just off Church Street, behind a row of terraced houses, no-one in Westhoughton ever called this cinema ‘The Palace.’ It always remained known, until closure, as ‘The Rink.’ Originally run by the Walker family, Mr. Walker doubled as manager and projectionist. His wife sold the tickets and doubled as usherette. The billiard hall was upstairs, over the auditorium. Players regularly walked down the aisle, during shows and carrying their cue-cases, to reach the stairs via a door next to the stage. It is said that it was common to hear the sound of rolling balls and pacing feet over the film sound-track. Following closure, the premises was gutted and became a wood-yard and sawmill for many years, before being cleared for housing.

UKmender commented about Empire Cinema on Dec 12, 2020 at 3:55 am

During the UK’s second, big TV snooker revival, when both Tony Knowles and John Spencer had successful halls in the Bolton area, this ex-cinema found its second use. Refurbished and rigged out with 15 modern tables, it was a reasonably successful Snooker Club until the fad faded. The fixtures and fittings were then sold off and the premises stood empty for several years. The small shops, either side of the facade, continued in business as a pizza/kebab shop and gent’s barbers, respectively. In 2014 the building was purchased by Hindley based developers, Littler & Associates. It was then demolished and plans submitted for a small housing development. The application was refused. A modified plan was then submitted, which addressed the previous objections, but this application, too, was refused. During most this time, the shop premises to the immediate right of the site had operated, under various names, as Westhoughton’s main Off Licence drinks retailer. This closed, due to competition from a discount outlet nearby, and then became a pet shop. The pet shop then gave way to a continental style bar; ‘The Beer School.’ This did good business until hit by the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic regulations. Being only a small premises, with little more than standing room, it faced closure for the duration, unless it could come up with a way around the regulations. So in the summer of 2020 the adjacent derelict cinema site was outfitted as a beer garden. With rough tables and benches knocked up from old pallets, it did booming trade during the summer months.

UKmender commented about Palace Cinema on Dec 10, 2020 at 5:17 am


Around 2000, this former cinema was converted into T J’s Gym. The facade remained the original white but the wrought-iron work and marquee had long been removed. It was looking decidedly run down. The only sign of the original name, at this time, was the name of the newsagents to the right of the entrance. ‘Palace News.’ In 2008, the facade was scaffolded (see photos) and given a much needed refurbishment. Repainted in magnolia, it became ‘The Wigan & Ashton Gymnastics Club,’ In 2015 it was repainted, yet again, in a khaki colour, and shortly afterwards became a dance school. ‘The Hurst Dance Studio.’ The newsagents became a fireworks shop, called ‘Palace Fireworks,’aka ‘A&S Fireworks.’

UKmender commented about Majestic Cinema on Nov 30, 2020 at 5:28 am

The ‘Majestic Ballroom’ became better known to all its clientelle as The Majestic Club, or just ‘The Majestic.’ The original stage and proscenium were used, with the raked flooring levelled. The stage front was fitted with a full width Run-Out. This was manually operated, by several burly doormen dragging it out on castors. Thus it could switch from disco to cabaret. It was so popular that the nearby youth club gave its success as the reason they were forced to close, due to lack of support.

Refitted, as a proper cabaret club, by Joe Pullen and Fred Talbot, it began to book increasingly up-market acts. Initially it served snacks, including the usual ‘Chicken in a Basket’ to fulfill the licencing laws, but there were ambitions to convert it to full dinner-club format. To achieve the refit it became necessary to close for a while. To maintain income, during this interim period, the business was transferred temporarily, to the nearby skating rink, close to the Palladium Cinema. The rink was renamed the Rainbow Rooms.

When The Talk of the North reopened, the old proscenium and stage were gone. Tiered seating, with tables, were arranged around the three sides of a large hydraulic, Thrust Stage, on the left-hand side of the main room. This stage could descend into the basement, where the dressing rooms were situated, and rise up complete with bands or acts ready to perform. Certain areas of the stage could also rise to different heights, to form steps and rostrums. It could also be made fully flat for disco dancing. Certain areas of the building did remain hampered, however, by some aspects of the original cinema’s architecture. One night, it burned down and, for reasons of safety, it was demolished except for about fifteen feet of the original perimeter wall. The front wall, complete with boarded-up doors, windows and announcement boards, remained a sad reminder for several years, pending rebuild. When ‘The Talk’ was finally rebuilt, it was the club it should always have been, but it was too late. The scene had moved on and the business never recovered its former glory. In 1984, as stated, it became Randy’s Fun Bar and Disco. It closed for good two years later.

UKmender commented about ABC Eccles on Nov 30, 2020 at 3:48 am

When ABC were taken over by Thorn-EMI, an extra element was added to the vertical sign such that it read, from top down: A-B-C-EMI. Later, the bottom segment was removed, along with the letters ABC. From then to closure it simply read E-M-I.

The circle restaurant, with its separate entrance, immaculate parquet flooring and fully equipped kitchen, was leased to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio franchise. When the franchise ran out, it continued under the name ‘The Court School of Dance.’ This business continued, until demolition, under the last owners; Bill and Barbara Benson. The doors onto the circle were covered in vertical, tinsel drapes. It was still possible to go onto the circle and see the top of the proscenium and everything else above the Kwik-Save suspended ceiling. The dance school moved to Irlam, for a while, before returning to Eccles Masonic Hall. Barbara Benson died in June 2013, following which Bill wound up the business and moved to Australia, to live with his brother.

UKmender commented about Light Cinemas Bolton on Nov 25, 2020 at 7:44 am

The banner,above, declaring that this cinema is ‘OPEN’ is, sadly, incorrect. It was declared ‘Closed until further notice.’ on October 13th 2020. The whole of Bolton’s Market Hall saga has been a continual bone of contention between the citizens of the borough and it’s town council. In its original incarnation, as a typical Victorian, vaulted market, it was loved by all. The council, however, have sought to continually update the space, against much opposition. The first re-vamp was OK, in that some permanent stalls were installed instead of traders having to provide their own. There were also shop units added around the perimiter, with a range of attractions. It was a vibrant space. In the second revamp, fewer,fancier stalls were installed, but these were placed on the diagonal instead of being square with the building. It was now impossible to walk up and down the aisles. You had to zig-zag around the stalls. Footfall went down and many seasoned stall-holders pulled out. The third revamp began in 1984, (not 1894 as above) during which it was transformed from a Market Hall into yet another boring mall. Big high street names, like Marks and Spencer and Debenhams were offered inducements to open stores in the new mall, which opened Dec. 1988. After the novelty had worn off and footfall, once more, began to fall, most of the big names, including M&S, pulled out, leaving Debenhams to fly the flag. The place was really struggling! So a fourth revamp was planned, this time with the hope of attracting more people into the town centre in the evening. At night, Bolton had been, virtually, dead for some time. In order to limit the vast, unused areas of floor-space, a huge hole was opened up to give access to the disused cellars. Renamed The Vaults, it was hoped to attract trendy bistros etc. The retail units were redesigned, yet again, and in the multi-storey car-park, above Debenhams, it was proposed that much space be offered to ‘The Lights’ cinema chain. As described, above, the 9 screen, fully digital cinema was integrated into the building. Inside the current mall, which is as far removed from the original and much loved market as it’s possible to imagine, the new mezzanine, with lift and escalators, looks impressive. Externally it looks like a pimple on a cheese! To fill the cinema, patrons would need somewhere handy to park. But, oh-dear, the car-park now has a cinema parked in it!

As of November 2020, due to the Covid 19 outbreak, the cinema is closed ‘until further notice.’ The Lights group have stated that several of their outlets will not reopen after Covid. Many believe that the Bolton branch may be one of them. On top of this, Debenhams are in severe financial trouble and are saying that they are currently in a ‘light touch’ administration which is preparing to close 50 stores. Will Bolton’s be one of them? We will have to wait and see.

UKmender commented about New Oxford Theatre on Nov 24, 2020 at 4:37 am

Again, Ken, you are missing a trick. Prior to its becoming a MacDonalds restaurant, a substantial part of the building spent several years as a casino. Run as a Ladbroke’s Sporting Club, the entrance was from the old Lyon’s Corner House, on the corner, from where a staircase led up to a large gaming room, which ran across the full front of the building, above the cinema foyer.

UKmender commented about Gaumont Manchester on Nov 24, 2020 at 4:12 am

Everyone seems to be suffering from amnesia with regards to Romanoff’s. I had an office in Canada House, on Chepstow St. The big back windows opened onto the alleyway between the two buildings. From there I watched the beginning of the conversion, including the bricking up of the original stage-door. All of the old interior fittings came out of the scene-dock, and the new fit-out went in the same way. When finished, and fitted out as the Russian themed Romanoff’s night club. I actually got to see inside, when closed to the general public. There is nothing quite so depressing as a theatrical space, of any kind, with just the low-wattage service lighting turned on and all the tackiness all too apparent. Romanoff’s didn’t last long before being restyled, and rebranded as Rotters.

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.