Gala Pavilion Cinema
78/80 St. Mary Street,
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Previous Names: Philharmonic Hall, The Panopticon, Pavilion Cinema
The Cardiff Philharmonic Hall 1876 can still be read on the outside of the building behind which is a "Square" bar/disco.
Over the years the building has housed various entertainments, from Music Hall, Stoll’s "Panopticon", and from c.1917 a full-time cinema called the Pavilion Cinema, operated by the Biocolour Company.
Associated British Cinemas took over the operation and for some years operated in conjunction with the "Queens", moving the manager and orchestra to the Pavilion Cinema while sound was installed for the first talkie “The Singing Fool” starring Al Jolson. The Queens Cinema and Pavilion Cinema became ABC’s second string when the Olympia Cinema was reconstructed and frequently showed the same programme.
After being given up by ABC the management passed to J.F. Emery Circuit in 1946 and advertisements reveal that most films were re-runs and occasional 75 minute cartoon shows.
The interior retained many old features and no attempt was made to accommodate CinemaScope in the 26ft wide proscenium. When necessary the screen masking was lowered and the edges of the image were blanked off.
The Gala Film Distributors company took over in the 1960’s and renamed the cinema and after some redecoration closed off the balcony and offered stalls seats at four prices for Continental films, art-house (e.g. Polanski’s "Repulsion") and many sword and sandal products from Italy.
Closing as a cinema in 1968, inevitably Bingo eventually took over and after that came to an end a major refurbishment took place restoring many of the features of the old building into which modern video screens were added within a "Music Hall " environment. For a time photographs were displayed in the foyer showing the building "before and after" refurbishment. Acoustic panelling and a reopened balcony were revealed.
In common with other cinemas the Pavilion Cinema also offered a soda-fountain, restaurant, and ballroom at various times.
An exhibition of Cinema Equipment from the collection of a local enthusiast contained a projector salvaged from the Pavilion/Gala consisting of an RCA Photophone sound head, Westar mechanism and a Peerless Magnarc.
The opening hours of the present bar were reduced when the J.D. Wetherspoon chain took over the building next door, the former Prince of Wales Theatre, itself a cinema from 1957 until it ended as an "Adult Cinema". In 2009, it was reported that the bar use at the Gala Pavilion Cinema had ceased and the building was empty and for lease. By 2017 it had re-opened as a bar named Coyote Ugly.
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