Olympia Cinema

Derwent Street,
Blackhill, DH8 8TU

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Olympia Cinema

In Blackhill, a village in County Durham, just outside Consett, the Olympia Cinema opened on 6th October 1913. It was an imposing building, with tall, square towers (originally topped by domes) either side of an apex-roofed frontage, and owned by John Adams. By the early-1920’s, the resident manager was A. V. Adams, presumably a relative, and there was one show nightly, with two changes of programme each week.

Into the 1930’s a British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system was installed (later replaced by a Western Electric(WE0 system), and the Olympia Cinema was being run by Olympia Cinema (Blackhill) Ltd. A seating capacity of 750 was listed in the 1935 Kinematograph Year Book.

In 1947 the Olympia Cinema was taken over by Consett Cinemas Ltd, and the seating capacity was reduced to 641.

In 1955 CinemaScope was introduced (without, it seems, a reduction in seating capacity). The screen was 27ft 6ins wide, set in a proscenium that was 29ft wide. At this time, a GB-Kalee sound system was installed. There were three changes of programme each week.

The Olympia Cinema appears to have closed around 1960. It is listed in the 1959 Kinematograph Year Book, but not in the 1961 edition (frustratingly, I do not have access to the 1960 edition).

It is also not known what other uses the building went over to. However, at some stage the building was demolished, and housing now occupies the site at the junction of Derwent Street and Hawthorn Street.

Contributed by David Simpson
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