Gaumont Sunderland

Fawcett Street,
Sunderland, SR1

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Gaumont-British-Picture Corp., Ltd., Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd., Rank Organisation

Architects: Percy Lindsay Browne

Firms: Percy Lindsay Browne & Glover

Styles: Renaissance Revival

Previous Names: Havelock Picture House

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The Havelock Picture House was a project of Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) and it opened on 16th December 1915 with "The Girl Who Might Have Been", "The Night Before Christmas", "Climbing the Jung Frau" and "The Haunted Hat". It occupied a prominent postion on Fawcett Street at Mackies Corner and the entrance was dominated by a large square tower which was illuminated at night. In 1926 a Wurlitzer 2Manual/8Ranks theatre organ was installed and it was opened by organist Frank Matthew. This made the 10-piece orchestra redundant. The Havelock Picture House had a cafe for the convenience of its patrons.

From February 1929 PCT were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres chain. The Havelock Picture House was the first cinema in Sunderland to screen ‘talkies’ and Al Jolson in "The Singing Fool" ran from 15th July 1929 until 10th August 1929, attracting an audience of 120,000 during its run.

It was renamed Gaumont from 29th May 1950 and closed on 15th June 1963 with Susan Strasberg in "A Taste of Fear". It was demolished later in 1963 and shops and an office block were built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

A vintage photograph of the Havelock Picture House in 1918:

wmr on September 22, 2011 at 9:30 am

Having not been on this site for some time, and on looking up the Odeon Sunderland, I would point out that your photograph of the ite of the Gaumont (Havelock) is the wrong photo. This site is in High Street West, of the “Picture House”. An Independant cinema which closed in 1966. The Gaumont (Havelock) is in Fawcet Street, yes..on “Mackies Corner” but you have the wrong site. I am sure you would rather me point this out so this could possibly be corrected.

Bill Mather

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm

The December 29, 1915, issue of Building News and Engineering Journal had the following item:

“A new theatre and cafes, shops and suites of offices have been erected on the Havelock House site, Sunderland, for the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, Limited. The architects were Messrs. Percy L. Browne and Glover, Newcastle, and the contractors Messrs. McLoughlin and Harvey, of Belfast”
Percy L. Browne and Glover were also architects for the 1923 rebuilding of the Empire Theatre at Whitley Bay.

CSWalczak on May 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm

An old picture of the Havelock Picture House can be seen here.

terry on March 26, 2016 at 11:49 am

Auditorium photo uploaded.

terry on March 26, 2016 at 1:08 pm

The original side elevation of the theatre is still standing with the offices behind. This would have been a very early example of ‘facading’.

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