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Firms: Chadwick, Watson & Company
Previous Names: Hippodrome Theatre, Essoldo, Classic
The Hippodrome Theatre was opened on 18th December 1905 as a live theatre, with films screened as part of the variety programme. Seating was provided for 1,700 in stalls, circle and balcony levels. The proscenium was 40 feet wide and the stage 30 feet deep. There were ten dressing rooms. It continued as a variety theatre until the early-1930’s, when it was equipped with Western Electric sound for the screening of ‘talkies’. The theatre was gutted by a fire on 8th November 1932, and it was rebuilt to the plans of architectural firm Chadwick, Watson & Company, re-opening on 28th August 1933.
After over a decade as a successful cinema, the Hippodrome Theatre reverted back to live shows in 1948, although there was still some film use. Stars who appeared at this time include Morecambe & Wise, Harry Secombe and Frankie Vaughan, with repertory theatre staged by Harry Hanson & his Court Players. It was taken over by the Essoldo Cinemas chain in 1955, and went back to full time cinema use, eventually re-named Essoldo on 23rd June 1968.
Taken over by the Classic Cinemas chain from 2nd April 1972, it was re-named Classic. Closed for conversion into a triple-screen cinema in March 1973, it re-opened on 2nd August 1973 with seating for 240 in screen 1, 125 in screen 2 and 110 in screen 3. Taken over by the Cannon Group in 1986, it was renamed Cannon, and closed on 2nd September 1993.
It was demolished in January 1996, and the ARC Stockton Arts Centre (which includes a cinema) was built on the site.
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