ABC Halifax

Ward's End,
Halifax, HX1 1TA

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DDarvill on February 20, 2022 at 10:31 am

I am doing some research to try and find my biological father. He was a regular visitor to the Odeon,Gaumont and Regal/ABC in Halifax. I have been told he worked for the union and collected subs every few weeks. He was a very smartly dressed man of Asian descent believed to be called Robin. I know he was there in 1959 to around 1964. Can anyone remember him? Thanks.

rivest266 on October 18, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Grand opening ad posted.

terry on January 16, 2021 at 2:14 pm

One of the projectionists at the ABC once told me that the Halifax born mass murderer, John Reginald Christie had been a projectionist at a cinema called the Coliseum in the town.

I have only today, all these decades later, tried to find out what I could about the Coliseum but , I am afraid to say, that no such place ever existed in Halifax.

What I have discovered, however, is that the notorious person referred to did actually work at the following cinema in 1919:-

terry on January 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm

I have uploaded a photo of the main auditorium of ABC Halifax (former circle). During the triple conversion the EMI/ABC Company removed three huge chandeliers from above the front stalls in addition to all those above the front and rear circle. ‘Flush’ fittings were then inserted in the main ‘stalactite’ design ceiling. Whilst this did impose on the auditorium’s grandeur it did not harm its appearance too much.

The front stalls seating here could have been retained as the ‘drop wall’ did not encroach on this area plus the exits were still accessible; I suppose, however, that the circle capacity of 670 was considered large enough even for the occasional ‘blockbuster’ in 1976 - how times had changed!

The full width of the proscenium cannot be seen from the angle of the shot but as I recall it was about 55 feet which was wide by any standards in the 1930’s and certainly much wider than those of two sister theatres, York and Harrogate where the auditoria (particularly at York) narrowed severely at the stage end. When CinemaScope was installed in those theatres, rising festoons had to be installed in order to maximise the sheet size.

In Halifax, needless to say, tabs were always used (originally two sets but reduced to just the house set upon installation of ‘Scope). In the last couple of years of operation, the reformed ABC Company (basically Cannon with the name of its main constituent company reinstated) were too mean to replace the curtain cable when it ‘gave up the ghost’ and the very good quality lined satin house tabs were thenceforth only to be seen hanging at each side. Trust that lot!

terry on January 16, 2021 at 12:17 pm

2 photos uploaded.

The ABC Regal was unusual in having a Christie organ rather than the usual Compton or Wurlitzer ( Union Cinemas, taken over by ABC, usually had the latter). The Christie organ was transferred from one of ABC’s East London cinemas, the Queens, Forest Gate which in 1941 was destroyed in an air raid but they managed to salvage the organ and transfer it to Halifax.

terry on August 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Article about the Odeon and Regal, Halifax. According to this the opening capacity of the Regal was 1938 with the circle seating 688 and not 668. I did wonder how, after slightly larger seats were installed in the circle in 1974, it somehow (with 670 seats) managed to accommodate 2 more people than in 1938…….

terry on August 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Three external shots have been uploaded to the relevant section. Two date back to the early 1960’s shortly after the Regal name was dropped in favour of the corporate ‘A B C’ . This happened across the circuit except where the company had more than one venue in a town or city when the original name(s) would be retained at the other cinema(s). There were exceptions where both main theatres would be renamed ABC and differentiated by street name, for example the ABC’s George Street and Magdalen Street, Oxford.

terry on August 11, 2015 at 11:50 am

The very last Manager of the ABC is a good friend who joined ABC about four or five years after I did in the early 1970’s. It is a coincidence that the above should appear now as he and his wife are staying with me for a few days from tomorrow; I am sure that he will be fascinated to see the YouTube interview of the interesting former projectionist who worked at the Regal in its glory days.

The Halifax ABC was always a favourite of mine and, whilst not the largest example (they ranged from 1500 – 3000 seats), it was certainly one of W R Glen’s finer buildings and I hope that some good use will be found for it.

Ironically, it was closed by former rival company, Odeon who said that the place did not fit comfortably in their portfolio of cinemas. I cannot think why as they re-branded venues which were far inferior to the Halifax ABC Regal and, whilst Halifax’s original Odeon was a lovely cinema, the Regal had the edge both architecturally and by location.

CalderdaleLiveTV on August 11, 2015 at 6:27 am

We were lucky to get access to the former Regal Cinema and interviewed former cinema employee Peter Berry.

Here’s the first video clip:

terry on May 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

I frequently carried out relief duties at this most impressive theatre and, on a couple of occasions, took over for Jim Thompson’s fortnight’s holiday.

Whilst I always got on well with the opposition in any town where I worked, Halifax was really brilliant with everyone at the Odeon and Astra being very friendly, particularly at the former.

I drew the short straw to be the Relief on the very day that the contractors moved in to start the tripling process and I tried to sneak in on that morning to avoid being waylaid by anyone. However, as my feet touched the first of the circle stairs to go up to the office I was collared by the Head Cleaner who had a list of problems concerning the invaders of the building…….

I have to say that no time was wasted by the contractors, as by the end of my second day (the cinema was open evenings only in the circle), all the stalls seats had been removed plus all the HF Pride auditorium chandeliers and spray fittings and one of the statuettes in the splay alcoves had been knocked over onto the Front Stalls (now bare) floorboards and broken – the vandals!

HalifaxOrganist on September 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Sadly the nightclub closed last week and the building is now un-used :(

HalifaxOrganist on May 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Some people have misunderstood what happened when the ABC became a night club. When it closed the was a steel frame box built in the front of the stalls not connected to the walls in any way. in the origional rear stalls later screens 1&2 they made the night club using all the stalls with the box they made. The circle is intact except for afew ventilation pipes over it so almost like it was when it was screen 3 just the extension in the stalls prevents you from seeing half the screen. All of the origional decor is still there hidden in the darkness there were some bits that because of the listing they could only hang up a cloth over it. I saw my first film in screen 1 in 1999 so this cinema means alot to me and also it contained a Christie Cinema organ until it was trippled.

Ryan Thomas
Ryan Thomas on June 26, 2008 at 10:40 am

Just found this website and what a great site, Can’t beleive it’s six years since the Cinema shut.. As a teenager i used to go EVERY week sometimes as much as 4 times a week.. The first film i can remember seeing here was Superman 4 aged around 8 or 9…I took my Mrs on our 1st date here back in 1998 to watch Scream 2..The council and Jumpin Jaks should be ashamed of themselves for riding our town of this amazing Cinema..

Ian on October 4, 2007 at 5:22 am

October 2007 exterior photo here :–

View link

Ian on January 30, 2006 at 5:27 am

An interior view during the conversion to the nightclub. Including the gold statuette.

View link

TheDeed on May 26, 2005 at 6:51 am

What have you done???

Throughout my turbulent teenage years this cinema was a beacon of joy in life. You knew that Halifax had it’s own piece of pure vintage Hollywood in it’s classical design and furnishings – those gold statues either side of the screen are an image I shall recall with wonder till the day I die.

What breaks my heart is not knowing if I’d rather see the building torn down than defiled in this way.

cinemabuff on October 14, 2003 at 6:56 am

this wonderfull cinema is now a night club. The auditorium is fully painted black thus covering all the cinemas internal detailing which is what the cinema was listed for.this should never have happened and the people who let this happen should never be forgiven.

derek atkins(public relations officer mercia cinema society).