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Preston’s cinematic history: Where former cinemas once stood in the city

Posted on - 5th February, 2015 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Nostalgia, Preston City Centre
The Theatre Royal in 1956 which became the ABC

The Theatre Royal in 1956 which became the ABC

As Preston prepares to pin its future hopes on city centre revitalisation on a cinema we take a look back at when cinemas were in their pomp.

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The city has always been an enthusiastic adopter of watching films on the big screen and at one time had 22 cinemas dotted around its streets.

One of the biggest was the Theatre Royal cinema which became the ABC Cinema.

Located on the junction of Theatre Street and Fishergate it was originally opened in 1802 as a theatre.

In 1911 it started showing films and eventually was fully-converted into a cinema by Associated British Cinemas in November 1929 – with 1,160 seats.

It closed in December 1955 and was demolished to be re-built as a modern ABC Cinema.

This was opened in March 1959 was Pathe News were there to capture what was branded “the most modern building of its day”.

In April 1973 the Painted Wagon pub was constructed in part of the cinema reducing its seating capacity to 637.

The ABC closed in September 1982 and was demolished during Autumn 1986 to make way for what is now the Fishergate Centre.

Another long-standing cinema, and indeed still-standing cinema, was the New Victoria on Church Street which eventually become The Odeon.

Inside the New Victoria in 1927

Inside the New Victoria in 1927 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

The New Vic opened in September 1928 and had a capacity of 2,100 – typical of a 1920s and 30s super cinema.

It included a restaurant and a spacious entrance hall. The cinema was famous for its Wurlitzer Organ.

In 1954 it was renamed as the Gaumont and then it was taken over by Rank in 1962 and remodelled as the Odeon.

The former cinema theatre

The former cinema theatre

Its restaurant was converted into a second screen in 1970 and eventually it closed in September 1992. It still stands empty on Church Street.

Preston’s other long-lost cinemas

Palladium Cinema. On Church Street, with one screen and seating 902 this ran from 1915 to 1966.

Empire Cinema. Also on Church Street. One screen and ran from 1930 to 1964 with 1,805 seats.

Ritz Cinema. Another on Church Street which opened in 1937 and seated 1,650. It is not known when the Ritz closed.

Picturedrome on Brackenbury Street. Operated from 1909 to 1958.

Alexander Picture Theatre on Walker Street. From 1911 to 1927.

Marathon Cinema on Frank Street. From 1913 to the late 1920s and seated 600.

Cosy Theatre on St Peter’s Street. From 1914 to late 1950s and seated 450.

The Grand, The Regal and Lido Cinema – three names for the Marsh Lane cinema. Operating from 1921 to 1959 and seating 640.

The Rialto Cinema. Not known where this was but operated from 1921 to 1959 and seating 300.

Savoy Cinema in Ashton Street. From 1921 to 1957 and seated 800.

Star Cinema on the corner of Corporation Street and Fylde Road. Operated from 1921 to 1959 and seated 1,000.

Guild Cinema on Geoffrey Street. From 1922 to 1959 and seated 750.

Empress Super Cinema in Eldon Street. From 1929 to the late 1960s and seated 650.

Carlton Cinema in Blackpool Road. Opened in 1932 and closed in 1961. It seated 650.

Plaza Cinema on New Hall Lane. Ran from 1932 to 1964 and seated 930.

Rex cinema in Cragg’s Row ran from 1910 to 1961 and seated 500.

Continental Cinema on Tunbridge Road ran from the 1960s and it is not known when it closed. Seated 235.

A more recent cinema was the University of Central Lancashire’s venture into cinema with the Mitchell and Kenyon Cinema in the Foster building. It opened in 2006 and closed in 2013. It seated 110.

What do you remember about Preston’s old cinemas? Let us know in the comments below

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