Unit Four Cinemas

Bolton Road,
Walkden, M28 5AY

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Apollo Cinemas, Unit Four Cinemas

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Unit Four Cinemas

Located in Walkden, Lancashire. The Unit Four Cinemas was opened in 1972 in a conversion of a bowling alley which was a replacement for the Criterion Picture House, which had previously been on the site. It was operated by Unit Four Cinemas, and later became part of the Apollo Theatres chain. The four screen operation was initially a 16mm operation and had screens seating 118, 108, 86 and 94. In 1974 it was equipped with 35mm projectors. The cinema closed by November 1999. It became a Buckingham Bingo Club, which later transferred to other premises.

Contributed by Lee Walmsley

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

bettyespana on April 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

Slight correction to Graham.I was one of the first receptionists at the Unit 4 when it opened.There was a cinema on the site originally named The Criterion.It was knocked down to make way for the new Arndale Centre.The owners(not the Emerys at the time)had to have some work done in the foyer whilst I was there & the old Criterion Cinema sign was found whilst they were digging.I myself was thrilled as I spent many happy hours at the “Crit) as it was affectionally known to us locals.

Grahamh on April 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

I was at the Palace and I only remember the Unit4 not the criterion. Wasn’t it a bowling alley before it became Unit4? Emerys owned a cinema in Swinton, but that had closed before I was on the scene. As to the Bull’s Head, I gather that it’s now a Wetherspoons, so the berr might have improved!

fthompson on April 14, 2014 at 9:23 am

palace cinema/bingo hall was still running in 1973 and after, I was a bingo caller and midnight projectionist for 4 yrs started in 1969, midnight movies during the winter, children’s saturday morning club, bring a record and sing to it on stage before the film, then bingo in the afternoon , owner at the time was Sam Stockton unit 4 was around the corner next to the Westminster bank

Grahamh on April 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I remember Sam. I’d done some work for him before I went to Uni in 1968, but after that was working at Bolton Odeon, so lost touch with the Palace. If anyone remembers him, Gilbert Taylor was manager during my time. Nice to find there’s still someone who remembers the place.

Walton1950 on February 21, 2016 at 5:04 am

Hi Unit 4 actually opened in 1972. I was the Chief Projectionist, and Keith Hampson was the manager. It opened with Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Bandelero in screen 1. Cromwell in screen 2. When 8 bells toll in screen 3. Funny Girl in screen 4 It operated on 16mm projection, changed to 35mm screen by screen in 1974

enc on January 21, 2018 at 11:27 pm

I remember unit 4. Watched the great rock and roll swindle here their age policy must have been quite relaxed as I would have been under age at the time. Also remember watching Hooper here. Anyone remember the bar area ? And the crappy “local adverts” one that comes to mind was for walkden sports and sadelery a shop that was in the arcade at the time.

gavcrimson on January 22, 2018 at 6:07 am

i remember having difficulty seeing Batman here when I was 11 (it was a 12 cert but they eventually relented and let me in) so maybe their age policy had gotten a little less relaxed by the late 1980s. didn’t the bar area have saloon style doors? have a vague memory of that.

UKmender on November 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.

gavcrimson on January 5, 2021 at 4:18 am

Thanks for that information, my parents didn’t move to Walkden till 1981 so wasn’t aware of its history as a bowling alley.

Biffaskin on October 25, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Housed a bingo club at the end too, last incarnation was as Buckingham Bingo before they moved the club to a new build.

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