Gaumont Cardiff

43-45 Queen Street,
Cardiff, CF10 2NG

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Buffer on April 22, 2017 at 2:48 pm

The organ, which had been played by Idris Thomas, was removed in 1955 and sold to a church in Bristol.

geoffjc on December 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Gaumont/Empire site now occupied by Matalan.

geoffjc on June 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm

No trace of the Empire/Gaumont remains and now Primark are moving across the road into a building originally built for Woolworths and later occupied by BHS.(A theatre was planned but not built on this site ca 1910)

AdoraKiaOra on March 31, 2009 at 10:58 am

That is absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much for that.

edithapearce on March 31, 2009 at 7:43 am

The gear driven BTH Supers were the worst of all machines to switch from flat screen to scope projection. Nearly of of them had been scrapped by 1960 and were often replaced by older Kalee machines from closed houses. Many cinemas retained the robust BTH stands and mounted Peerless Arcs and Westar heads on them.The Monico in Rhiwbina was a good example of this practice.

Scope brought a lot of headaches for projectionists. Especially when a hall was showing two wide screen presentations with a scope trailer in between. Projectionists had to work at an extremely fast rate to effect the format changes if they wanted a slick presentation.

edithapearce on March 31, 2009 at 7:31 am

Most of the projection heads in the small south Wales halls were of Kalee,BTH Super, Westar or in extreme cases antique devices of RCA origin. None of these were originally designed for Scope although all of them were easily adapted to to the new format.Adapting meant changing the aperture plate and primary lens, then swinging the anopticon scope lens in front of the replaced primary lens. Kalee plates were robust affairs that slid in from the top of the head. Westar plates were small fiddly brass affairs that were slid into a slot at the side of the head.Projectionists often used pliers for this change as the plates would get very hot and were difficult to grip.

edithapearce on March 31, 2009 at 7:20 am

No. All projection heads contained some type of plate that would govern the area of screen that received the image. For example a cinemascope plate would be rectangular as would the smaller wide screen plate. Flat screen plates would be almost square. These plates were changed over depending on the film being shown. The location of the plates being always immediately before the primary lens. Every projector had a set of plates that were individually created to match that projector’s position in that particular box. The plates were cut in such a way that the screened image was of the correct proportion and identically positioned to the image projected by the other projector.

AdoraKiaOra on March 30, 2009 at 11:11 am

I take it this is only needed when a projection box is in a difficult position in the auditorium.

edithapearce on March 29, 2009 at 2:55 am

Adjusting the angle of the projector and the screen to get a square or rectangular image in front of the audience.

AdoraKiaOra on March 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

What is ‘keystoning’ on a screen

geoffjc on March 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

There are a number of pictures of the Empire (as it was until 1952) in the Old Cardiff series of books and in the local library. Also architects' plans in the record office .

AdoraKiaOra on March 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I wish there were pictures of The Gaumont.

edithapearce on March 28, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I was frequent attender at this theatre and can recall many of the stage shows that took place there. My favourite was Peter Pan staring Pat Kirkward. As a child I really did believe she could fly.

I also remember witnessing the premier of Tiger Bay starring John and Hayley Mills plus Horst Bucholz.

The last film to be shown at the Gaumont was the very appropriate “Go To Blazes” starring John Morley.

geoffjc on May 8, 2008 at 6:20 pm

The local studies department at Cardiff Library has extracts from a published description of Milburn’s reconstruction of the Empire in 1915, with photographs.
See also “Victorian and Edwardian Theatres” by V. Glasstone (1975)

Local newspapers from the 1880’s reveal more about Professor Levino , a mesmerist,and his time in charge of the original theatre and the eventual takeover by Oswald Stoll.

Each time Lumiere presented his Cinematographe a larger screen was specified,(reportedly only 6feet square on the first occasion)

The frontage and internal decoration at the time the Gaumont closed was mostly from Milburn and Trent’s designs.

geoffjc on May 1, 2008 at 10:08 am

Drawings now located in the local archive are by architect T Waring were dated October 1886 and show the building to be let to “Professor Levino”. Dolph and Henri Levino were “Crayon and Musical Artists” according the only reference so far located.
The Hall had theatre seating only in the first six rows and the balcony. Benches are shown on most of the ground floor (Pit) and all of the large gallery

geoffjc on April 23, 2008 at 9:45 am

The poster for the Grand Opening of “Levino’s Museum of Varieties” on November 7th 1887 reveals that the building had been “thoroughly remodelled and decorated” and describes many paintings and decorations and refers to Balcony, Gallery and Boxes.

geoffjc on September 20, 2007 at 12:49 am

During the first rebuild in 1895/6 the “Empire” relocated to the Philharmonic Hall.
The programme for the second week at the reopened Empire included Lumiere’s Cinematographe.
After the fire in 1899 the recently completed Andrews Hall, a few yards away, was home to the “Empire” during the reconstruction.
Some of the original plans from 1895 and 1900 have been preserved, and the local paper carried a very detailed description of the building destroyed by fire in 1899.

geoffjc on September 19, 2007 at 12:41 am

The press preview report of the 1900 re-opening reveals that lessons had been learnt from the disastrous fire the previous year as steel and concrete were the principal building materials with safety curtains and shutters to isolate the stage from the auditorium.Cherry red was the main internal colour instead of peacock blue.
The report reveals that electric arcs were installed for use with the cinematograph.
A very early “purpose built” example.

geoffjc on August 17, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Organ (Compton) installed in 1933 when Gaumont-British acquired the Empire and extensively remodelled the foyer and circle, plans by W Trent for GB.
New seating by Turners of Birmingham also fitted.

geoffjc on August 9, 2007 at 7:20 pm

Architects' plans by Trent and Milburn for Moss Empires are dated 1931 and 1933.