Odeon South Shields

80 King Street,
South Shields, NE33 1JE

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Black's Theatres, Odeon Theatres Ltd., Rank Organisation

Architects: Edwin M. Lawson, Thomas Ridley Milburn, William Milburn, Thomas Angelo Moore

Firms: Thomas Moore & Sons

Styles: Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Empire Palace Theatre, Thornton's Theatre of Varieties, Empire Theatre, Black's Regal Cinema

Nearby Theaters

Black's Regal/Odeon, South Shields

Located in South Shields, Tyne & Wear. The Empire Palace Theatre was opened in 1885 and was designed by architectural firm Thomas Moore & Sons. It became part of Richard Thornton’s chain of music halls and was renamed Thornton’s Theatre of Varieties. On 4th April 1896 films were part of the variety programme. In 1899, alterations were made to the theatre by architects William Milburn and Thomas Ridley Milburn. Richard Thornton was still operating the theatre in 1919.

By 1923 it had been re-named Empire Theatre again and had dropped the showing of films as part of the programme as the projection box had been removed. In 1931 a projection box was built at the rear of the stage, allowing films to be screened again. The final stage show “Piccadilly Nights” was on 29th April 1933 and the Empire Theatre was closed.

It was taken over by the Black family in 1935 and was demolished and a new one built to the plans of architect Edwin M. Lawson. The original facade and entrance was retained. It re-opening as Black’s Regal Cinema on 19th October 1935. It had been equipped with a Compton 2Manual/6Ranks organ. In 1943 it was taken over by the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd. and was re-named Odeon on 16th June 1945.

The Odeon presented its first live show in over twenty years when a variety show headed by Eddie Calvert (and his golden trumpet), supported comedian Jimmy James and Billy Anthony played for a week from 19th September 1955. It was then back to cinema use until it was closed by the Rank Organisation on 30th June 1962 with Frank Sinatra in “Lonely are the Brave”. The Compton organ was sold to a Mr. A. Manning who lived in Farnborough, Hampshire.

It was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club, which operated into the early-2000’s.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

terry on June 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Photo uploaded of a busy King Street in the 1950’s. The Odeon, whilst only having a small Front of House, stands out owing to the very effective signage of that Company.

ArtDirector on February 7, 2024 at 7:35 am

The theatre was on a back street separate from the main road entrance. As a result, the public had to go down a flight of steps to go through a tunnel under the back street to enter the stalls and over bridge above the back street to enter the circle. The autiorium block has now been demolished. This was a new 1930s building and not an adptation of the former theatre.

(The Gaumont down the road had the same arrangement.)

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