Central Cinema

The Hayes,
Cardiff, CF10

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Showing 16 comments

geoffjc on February 2, 2018 at 6:05 pm

The Dominions Arcade,once home to film distributors,with their vaults below, now contains the entrance to a hotel constructed in the block of small offices, (a few occupied by the smaller film renters), originally built above it in 1921, on a site partly used for the short-lived “Electric Theatre” until 1915

Among the papers deposited in the archive are plans showing a planned reconstruction of the Central cinema in the 1950’s which was never carried out.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on May 28, 2013 at 5:28 am

I went to see Bambi showing at the Regent Cinema in Ely in about 1944, i can still remember crying when Bambis' mother died.

rhiandavies91 on October 2, 2012 at 10:07 am

To geoffjc thank you for your help, I was wondering if there was the slightest chance that you, or anyone else on here reading this new of anyone that went to see a Disney film in a cinema during the second world war or just after? I know its a long shot but thought its worth a try!

geoffjc on September 25, 2012 at 3:42 am

The very extensive collection of papers from the various businesses owned by S. Andrews may be found at the Glamorgan Archive. They owned several cinemas in South Wales. RhianDavies91 may also find that,in days gone by, Disney films were generally shown first at Rank (Odeon etc) cinemas in Cardiff and were often withdrawn from distribution after a time until being re-released years later.

rhiandavies91 on September 24, 2012 at 8:33 am

Hi everyone, I’m a history graduate doing my dissertation on the influence of Disney’s productions on the British public and possibly its influence on the British Film Industry. I was wondering if anyone new of anyone that worked at any of the cinemas in Cardiff or anywhere in Wales that can remember any Disney’s productions being shown.Or anyone who visited the cinema that saw one of the earlier productions, e.g. any of the Mickey Mouse cartoons, Snow white and the Seven dwarfs, Bambi.. etc. Also anyone know of any surviving family members that owned cinemas, and could someone please point out where I could access these Archives preserved from the Andrews Company I would be very grateful for any help. Thank You!

palfery on January 13, 2012 at 5:32 am

My Grandmother was manager at the Central for many years. She was well appreciated for getting on well with the local population. At her funeral aged 90 we were all stunned at the arrival of a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce from which alighted a dapper little old man who sat at the rear of the chapel and said nothing. An Andrews? Who knows? A story fit for the screen?

edithapearce on June 14, 2010 at 1:11 am

Today I found out how to use Google Earth street View. I looked for the Dominion Arcade film vault’s entrance and actually found it in a street view of Crockherbtown Lane. The entrance is now at the end of very short blind alley. However you can clearly read the words Dominion Arcade and the date.

geoffjc on October 13, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I had forgotten to count the Clifton, as it closed in 1932 and wasn’t ever a Jackson Withers cinema!( In fact it was a cinema for about 17 years and Woolworths for over 70!) My point was that the city centre cinema buildings have all been totally demolished, while some earlier buildings that became cinemas have survived.The suburban buildings have often found new uses,e.g. the Canton closed 49 years ago and has been a retail unit longer than it was a cinema, even though one of the many built by 1914. In the opposite direction a school that became an arts centre nearby has thrived for approaching 40 years and has two cinemas.Apart from a few photos,perhaps some plans, nothing’s left of many cinemas.

edithapearce on October 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

According to some of my ex cinema colleagues there are actually seven former suburban cinema buildings surviving (in varied use) in Cardiff. These being :The Splott, Tivoli, Avenue, Ninian, Clifton , Gaiety and Canton.

edithapearce on October 10, 2009 at 8:54 pm

The vaults were accessed for delivery purposes via an entrance located in the lane between the Greyfriars building and Queen Street.The surface delivery area consisted of a loading bay into which one van could half reverse into at a time.At the back of the loading bay was a very heavy duty lift which was used to take the film containers down into the extensive and heavily fireproofed vaults.I very much doubt if the underground area could have been converted into a parking area as the required ramp would have been almost impossible to construct.Films were core spooled in reels of 2000 feet contained in a can. The cans were then placed in steel containers. The largest containers holding six cans were extremely difficult to carry. Only the news reels were packed in cardboard boxes. Balancers came in either two can cases or as single reels in a can which was contained in a ply case. I have put some memories of the vaults onto the listing of the Electric Cinema that formerly stood on the Dominions Arcade site.

geoffjc on October 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm

There’s no sign of any film-related activity in this area these days.A warehouse in Canton was used for film storage for a time according to a family member who worked in an adjoining building.
Cardboard boxes containing unspooled film seem to travel by van these days, the metal cans seem to be a thing of the past.
Dominions Arcade’s film distribution offices are now used by hairdressers, coffee/sandwich bars,a bank etc. The vaults, if they were accessed from the rear of the building, could well be a parking area, unlike the nearby cellars under the Principality Building, now a busy counter-service cafeteria.

edithapearce on October 10, 2009 at 9:10 am

Greetings, Not having visited Cardiff since 1970, I would be interested to know if the Dominions Arcade vaults are still in use for film storage purposes? When I worked in one of the vault’s ground level offices between 1955 and 1960 the arcade was entirely occupied by film rental companies and commonly referred to as “Little Wardour Street”.
During my time at the vaults, the extensive offices entered at the end of the arcade were occupied by Post Office Telephones. For some years vault staff used to sneak up to the Telephone Office canteen, claim they were telephone staff and get a subsidised meal as a consequence.

geoffjc on October 10, 2009 at 7:25 am

Visitors to the new shopping centre in Cardiff in October 2009 may enter at a point very close to where the converted shop that served as the entrance of the Central was located, with the converted skating rink to the left.
The only remaining traces of single-screen cinema in the City Centre are the former theatre buildings that housed the “Pavilion” (currently a closed bar),The Prince of Wales and the much-altered Hippodrome,(both now Wetherspoons).
Six of the suburban cinema buildings survive, at least in part,adapted for other uses.

edithapearce on April 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Whilst at Warner Pathe I met some of the projectionists who worked at the Central. They were always complaining about the set up at the cinema. For much of the time they used to switch the automatic system off and worked the box manually. I was told the device, which I never saw, had to be set up by inserting pegs into a drum which then revolved and triggered lights, drapes etc. Every time the programme changed it was a nightmare working out where next to put the pegs.They claimed it took longer to solve the peg problem than it did to spool up the prints.

The top reels above the projection heads were fitted with bells that rang when the reel emptied to a prefixed level and a changeover was imminent. The bells being set off as the near emptied reel began to revolve at higher speeds.

edithapearce on April 1, 2009 at 6:52 am

The latest equipment from Kalee is rumoured to have been the much vaunted Projectomatic system. As far as I’m aware it was the only cinema in South Wales that was fitted with this operating device.

geoffjc on September 14, 2007 at 5:25 am

The Central Roller Rink opened on Friday 15th October 1909, a couple of weeks after the Electric Theatre.
Roller Skating was hugely popular at the time and advertisements in the local press reveal that in addition to the “American Roller Rink” roller skating was also offered for short periods at the Panopticon (later the Pavilion Cinema), the Roath Hall in Stacey Road, also a short-lived cinema, and at Andrews Hall under the Olympia name which was carried on for many years, firstly as a variety/film hall then as rebuilt as part of the ABC group.
Early plans for the Gaiety included a roller rink and a cinema, but the popularity of the activity seems to have waned by the time it was built.