Then and now: Do you remember any of these former Norwich cinemas?
PUBLISHED: 18:35 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:42 04 January 2020
From the Rolling Stones to a headline hitting film riot, Norwich’s cinemas have a rich history. Here are ten former cinemas in the city and their stories.
ABC, Prince of Wales Road, 1923-1990s
The ABC opened on December 3 1923 with a viewing of The Prisoner of Zenda. In the 60s, it was popular with children for the 'ABC Minors' showing on Saturday mornings. Tickets costs 6d (the equivalent of 2.5p) and children would watch Batman serials and films. It closed as a cinema at the end of the 90s and reopened as Mercy nightclub in 2003 but remains Norwich's longest-running cinema.
The Regal, Dereham Road, 1938-1958
The Regal hit the headlines in 1957 when cinema-goers were forced out on the street after rioting and dancing in the aisles. They had been watching Rock Around the Clock, which featured the latest dance craze Rock'n'Roll, and were copying moves from the film. But the cinema was used to risk, as it had opened at the start of London projectionists' strikes. When the cinema closed it was vacant before becoming the Mayfair Bingo Club.
The Noverre, Theatre Street, 1950-1992
The Noverre opened in the Assembly rooms as part of a £70,000 refurbishment project which also saw music rooms, a banquet room and exhibition rooms. As a cinema, it was famed for showing no adverts before films, for not selling ice creams or popcorn and for abundant leg room. The cinema's most watched film - aired 11 times - was Cabaret.
Theatre de Luxe, St Andrews Street, 1910-1957
Theatre de Luxe was housed in the first building in Norwich designed specifically for cinema and also introduced the word to the city, in place of cinematograph. Popularity meant the cinema expanded after a decade and while it was the last cinema in Norwich to air talking films, it was the first to show 3D films. It closed as a cinema in 1957 and was demolished in 1970.
The Carlton, All Saints Green, 1932-1973
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The Carlton, renamed the Gaumont in 1960, was then the seventh cinema in Norwich. Perhaps one of its most dramatic episodes came during the Second World War, during an intensive air raid on April 29, 1942, when the cinema survived an unexploded bomb which smashed through the canopy and burrowed under the outer wall. When it closed as a cinema in 1973, it became a performance venue and played host to some big names including The Rolling Stones.
The Mayfair, Magdalen Street, 1912-1956
The Mayfair was Norwich's first purpose-built cinema, although construction was impaired by the Norwich Flood of 1912. Later, the cinema achieved another Norwich first - a silver screen, which offered the best viewing experience. After the cinema closed in 1956, it became derelict and was then transformed into a bowling alley. The former site was then used by Anglia TV and is now the venue Epic.
The Thatched Theatre, All Saints Green, 1915-1930
One of Norwich's most opulent cinemas, The Thatched Theatre boasted a restaurant and an elegant ballroom, while cinemagoers were treated to films accompanied by a string orchestra and afternoon teas. However, the cinema never aired talking films - which is credited to its closure in 1930. The cinema later turned into a ballroom and is now John Lewis.
The Capitol, Aylsham Road, 1932-1960
Opening on Boxing Day in 1932 with a screening of Tarzan the Ape Man, The Capitol in Mile End was marketed as 'Norwich's new suburban cinema'. To attract customers outside the city centre, the cinema had parking, although few people at the time owned cars. After the cinema's closure in 1960, it became part of the neighbouring Lido, the Norwood Rooms. Now, it is a Mecca Bingo.
The Electric, Prince of Wales Road, 1912-1959
The Electric was closed suddenly on a Saturday afternoon in 1959 with a showing of Wild in Country and became offices several years later. At its peak, the cinema was renowned for variety show screenings and the in-house tea room, where circle patrons could get free teas.
Hippodrome, St Giles Street, 1903-1960
As a performance venue for more than 50 years, the Hippodrome spent seven years as a cinema. The building began life as a live performance venue and after its stint as a cinema put on stage shows. However, it did have short-lived second life as a cinema in the late 50s before closing in 1960.
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