Princess Cinema

Princess Road,
Seaham Harbour, SR7

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: FairWorld Cinemas

Previous Names: Princess Theatre

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Princess Cinema

Located in the Dawdom district of Seaham Harbour, County Durham. The Princess Theatre was opened in October 1912. By 1934 it was known as the Princess Cinema having been equipped with a Western Electric(WE) sound system and was independently operated by Princess Entertainments, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. The proscenium was 35ft wide, the stage 20ft deep and there were four dressing rooms. It presented pictures and occasional variety into the 1930’s.

The Princess Cinema was still open in 1958, but closed and became a bingo club in 1961. Operated by the FairWorld Cinemas chain of bingo clubs in was closed in 1982.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

wmr on April 18, 2020 at 4:03 pm

I had some of the most memorable times as a “Junior Projectionist” when I was 15 at the “Princess”. The Resident Manager/Director was Mr Norman Walton. He had been at the “Princess” (he told me), since it was opened in 1912 and he was in his late 60s, He deemed me such that he took me under his “umbrella” so to speak and was always showing me items and ways that would “enhance” my career!. He always used to tell me to (quote) watch your uncle Norman as one day you will own your own cinema!! He knew something then that I didn’t as some 15 years later I was to become “CEO” of “FairWorld Cinemas” which at that time had purchased the “Princess”! He used to tell me to watch the “cleaners” with care as they would get up to tricks like taking the bars of soap home. He used to weigh the bars of “carbolic soap” and cut 8 ounces with a knife and weigh it. I was paid the princely sum of £3 a week and was given Sunday off so he would not have to pay me extra. When the “Rock & Roll” era was going strong we had “Rock Around The Clock” and recall that one night with hundreds in the queue his wife came running into the projection room saying he was being attacked and would I come straight away. (I was at that time about 5'5" and 16 years old. When I went out he was poking the young lads (Teddy Boys") with his stick calling them “rabble”! One said that if he poked any more he would wrap the stick around his neck! He booked the films and gave me a chance (at 16) to pick 6 films for a Sunday night run,(double bills), and he said if they didn’t do any good business he would sack me! I recall “Gone With The Wind” which was booked for 6 days and he decided to show part 1 Monday to Wednesday and part 2 (after the intermission) Thursday to Saturday and then get twice the admission. I recall there was a near riot and patrons wrote to “MGM” the distributors and he was barred from showing any more films from “MGM”> The “Western Electric” sound was still installed in 1956 (from 1933) and was the old valve and the sound was charged by batteries which had to be put on charge every night. The projectors, however, were modern “Kalee 21s” installed when Cinema Scope was installed in 1954 to compete with the “Empire” at Seaham. The stage was deep 20' and a wide proscenium over 35' from memory. The stage had “flys” still in 1956 albeit the dressing rooms were full of old “Kine Weekly” and old posters and seats.

The end came ending September 1959 which was the end of the financial year,(so I was always told by Mr Walton), and the last film shown was a re-run of “Bridge On The River Kwai” which had done excellent business on its first outing at the “Princess”. Mr Walton had retired and moved down south and the cinema was on the market for the sum of £50000. It was purchased eventually by the “FairWorld Bingo Group” and duly the rest of its life was devoted to Bingo. It finally closed in 1979 and stood empty until approximately 2002 when it was demolished and the land stands empty.

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