Wallaw Cinema

14 Union Street,
Blyth, NE24 2DX

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Associated British Cinemas Ltd., Classic Cinemas (UK), Wallaw Pictures Ltd.

Architects: Percy Lindsay Browne, Charles Alfred Harding

Firms: Percy Lindsay Browne, Son & Harding

Functions: Bar

Styles: Art Deco, Streamline Moderne

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Wallaw Cinema

Designed by the pre-eminent cinema architecture firm of the northeast of England, Percy Lindsay Browne, Son & Harding, the Wallaw Cinema opened on 16th November 1937 with 1,600 seats. It was built for the Wallaw Pictures Ltd. chain of Ashington, Northumberland.

The plain squat Moderne style facade belies the attractive auditorium within, but its dignified bulk is nevertheless a skilled massing of foyer, auditorium and stage brick blocks dressed with stone. The wonderful Art Moderne foyer contains its original fittings including metal handrails, balustrades and inlaid doors.

It was taken over by the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain on 24th March 1955. They operated in until 21st June 1970, when it was taken over by an independent operator. The London based Classic Cinemas chain took over on 2nd January 1972. Another independent took over on 24th June 1977 and closed as a single screen cinema on 11th December 1982. Re-opened under another operator on 27th December 1982, the auditorium was sensitively sub-divided in July 1987 with the two small screens hidden beneath the balcony. These are comfortable but undistinguished.

The main screen however was a delight with all original fittings, covered lighting in full working order, decorative plasterwork and wood facings to walls intact, etc.

The Wallaw Cinema was refurbished and redecorated in 1998 and it was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.

The cinema closed in 2004, with “The Passion of the Christ” the last film screened. The building lay empty and unused for several years. It was purchased by the J.D. Wetherspoon chain of pubs, and after renovation opened on 10th December 2013 as ‘The Wallaw’.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

Ross Hindhaugh
Ross Hindhaugh on April 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

i got access and was inside the wallaw cinema today 16/04/2008 and all my photos are on my myspace photo album which is linked here.

View link

the lobby area is flooded because of a hole in the roof which is tradgic. but that is the bulk of the damage. there is a small leak in majour screen in the upper circle section. then the rest of what is needed is simple cosmetiics replacement sound systems, new seats and some paint. other than that the building is screaming for a new lease of life. the place may look beaten down. but with some money its still possible to recindle what it had. check those pictures out and contact me on myspace if you want to talk.

geordielad on December 10, 2010 at 10:51 am

If you go to the estate agent it is under offer. It is going to become a Wetherspoons Pub. I do not know whether to be happy or sad. It is becoming derelict so this will prevent demolition but at what cost will it become a pub? Windows in walls… loosing the original lighting troughs, light fittings Lets hope not!!

DBage on October 24, 2013 at 5:17 am

Been good reading the above postings. RE Geordielad info about it becoming a Wetherspoons pub, I see that this is scheduled to open on Dec 10th. Its good to see that the place will have a new lease of life, as I enjoyed both my time working at the Wallaw as front of house staff and then projectionist at the time the cinema was tripled and also as a patron of the cinema as well. As a keen cinema goer, I think the 30s style cinemas cant offer the same level of presentation and comfort as the new cinemas we have in our region, so am really pleased to know that the Wallaw has a new lease of life. I believe/hope that the new owners will have been sympathetic in retaining as much of the architecture that they could incorporate within the new business, as they have at The Forum, Hexham. I am keen to see the Wallaw and will visit early after it opens.Its good to know, that since the first posting back in January 2005, that The Wallaw will now be back in use, a happy ending.

terry on April 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

The Wallaw, whilst briefly operated by Classic Cinemas, never was renamed ‘Classic’ – see my comment after the Essoldo Blyth article.

DavidSimpson on July 6, 2015 at 9:14 am

As can be seen from my photographs, this is a fantastic pub conversion by J. D. Wetherspoon. The duty manager kindly allowed me to go up to the rear of the former circle, not open to the public, to get a lovely photograph from that splendid vantage point.

terry on February 12, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Wetherspoons seem to be quite arbitrary re which former cinemas are sensitively restored or otherwise; they have totally wrecked the Ritz Wallsend which was designed for ABC by the same architects as the Wallaw; a similar trashing was carried out at the Regal Rochdale which was a good example of ABC’s in house architect WR Glen.

Wetherspoon’s free magazine usually includes a section devoted to their former cinema venues and they make the proud boast that they always carry out sensitive adaptations. Whilst I am tempted to write and beg to differ I have no doubt that I would receive a rather dismissive response….

Back to the Wallaw and yes, that one was lucky, fortunately. I have uploaded a photo not of the theatre itself but of an ‘on the road promotion’ for the film, ‘Payroll’ in 1961; of equal interest is a passing ‘North Eastern Railway'goods locomotive on the embankment in the background.

Buffer on December 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm

The winter 2016/17 issue of Wetherspoon News mentions a ghosthunting group were there over Halloween with mixed success. The article said the “machine room” was the epicentre of the paranormal where a female ghost had appeared in cinema days.

terry on June 15, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Image uploaded.

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