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Stockport Plaza (Official)
Firms: Drury & Gomersall
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Plaza Super Cinema
Built in 1932, plans were drawn by architect Thomas Thornley, but the Ambassador Circuit wanted it to be similar to their Regal Super Cinema, Altrincham designed by architectural firm Drury & Gomersall. Thomas Thorney was given the task to amend his designs to match the Drury & Gomersall designs and D & G agreed, so long as their name was not given as architects. The Plaza Super Cinema first opened its doors to the public on Saturday, October 8th, 1932 with a charity show for Stockport Infirmary. The original seating capacity was 1,878, in stalls and circle levels. The films shown were Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in “Jailbirds” and Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews in “Out of the Blue”.
Early programmes were a mix of cinema and live performance, or ‘prologues’ as they were known. The Plaza Super Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/11Rank theatre organ which has an illuminated surround on the console. The opening organist was Cyril Chadwick. It is still played today. There is a café/restaurant located on the circle lounge level.
The Plaza Super Cinema was later taken over by the Read, Snape & Ward Circuit. This was followed by the G.B. Snape Circuit who closed the cinema in 1966, and like so many others, became a bingo hall when it was purchased by Mecca Bingo. After 34 years as a Mecca Bingo hall, the Plaza Theatre was reopened as a cinema and theatre in October 2000.
In early-2009, it was closed for a full renovation and refurbishment, both externally and internally. Costing £3.2 million, false ceilings inserted in the 1960’s have been removed, and original plasterwork revealed again. The café/restaurant has been restored.
The Plaza Theatre reopened on 11th December 2009 with a cine/variety show, similar to its original 1932 opening show. The main film was “Gold Diggers of 1933”, with Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy in “Towed in a Hole” plus soprano Marilyn Hill-Smith leading a tribute to Gracie Fields with the Plaza Orchestra, and Richard Hills playing the Compton organ. Seating is now provided for 614 in the stalls, 318 in the front circle and 254 in the balcony(rear circle). The decorative details in the café/restaurant area have been beautifully restored, after years of being hidden behind false panels.
The Plaza Theatre was upgraded from a Grade II to a Grade II* Listed building in 2000.
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