ABC Dunstable

51 High Street North,
Dunstable, LU6 1JF

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Showing 16 comments

Ian1943 on February 13, 2021 at 5:44 pm

Hi Terry, I have just seen your November 9th posting of last year! I had to assume that John had died as we used to speak periodically, about 2/3 times a year and one day when I called I got the unobtainable tone and and an email to him remained unanswered. I knew he had worked for CMA at Doncaster Gaumont, I believe and we worked together at ABC Sheffield, however I was unaware of the Aberdeen and family connection.

terry on November 10, 2020 at 12:47 am

Ian; I have only just, after eight years, seen your request (on ABC Eccles page) for John McIntosh’s e-mail address which I would gladly have given you!

I am sure that you are now well aware of his passing 3 years ago. He was a good friend over the years and we used to stay at each other’s homes. John was, like many of the ‘old timers’, one of the great characters in the business and his experience both with film and stage shows was vast, having served with Donalds (Aberdeen - his mother’s cousins), CMA (Rank) and ABC.

terry on November 10, 2020 at 12:03 am

Gordon Coombes was finally George Lennox’s Assistant and part of his remit was dealing with the written complaints of cinema patrons. The latter increased proportionately with the decrease of staff complements. They really should have got the pruning shears out at Golden Square as no customer ever paid money to see that lot; strange that they always seemed to find room for more people there….

I could go on about that subject at great length but , returning to Mr. Coombes, it is worth mentioning that he also booked the stage shows at the remaining active live venues, the last two being Blackpool and Great Yarmouth. Of course, before the mass subdivisions and closures, there was a whole department devoted to this activity headed by Joseph Seal.

Mike_Blakemore on November 9, 2020 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Ian. Gordon Coombes. I had met Bill Carpenter at the same meeting. Over Coffee I had a private discussion with him in regards to the ABC (Palace)Erdington and the ABC Stourbridge (I later became the General manager of the company that owned Stourbridge before ABC) I had asked to lease these off ABC. I explained Why I wanted them. They then decided to keep Stourbridge and revamp it. The Shock of having it revamped gave the Manager a Heart attack and died.

Ian1943 on November 9, 2020 at 7:39 pm

Note to Mike Blakemore - the man you refer to was Gordon Coombes. In my time 1960’s his role was Assistant to the Circuit Supervisors L.E. (Bill) Carpenter and Fred Cockerill.

Buffer on January 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Interior photo of bingo hall taken in Sept 1999

westfield on October 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Is the stone relief on the front exclusive to this cinema and does anyone have any information about it or a clear picture……?

Mike_Blakemore on September 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Union Cinemas did go over the top on promoting the Brand “Union Cinemas” They did it every where, even take over shows.. When I worked for ABC I had a discussion with Mr.D Combes. (forgot is Christan Name at the mo.) who was at Head Office. He came with the Union Take over by ABC.. Union Cinema Sign usualy overshadowed the name of the Theatre, which was normaly “RITZ” (He was kind to me.. and gave me a load of pictures)

Ian on September 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

Not really registered before, but I have just noticed how the upright Union name hides the deco bas-relief panel above the central window. I assume that the two uploaded photos are fairly close to opening, judging from the traffic, so it is strange that a key part of the fa├žade should be hidden, either from the start or very soon after.

Ian on February 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

Now restored and re-opened as the Dunstable Conference Centre – flat stalls floor raked balcony, 1,000 seats.

Ian on March 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

The screen is / was at the rear so yes the front stalls must have been excavated to some degree. Given its listed status, I am assuming that much of the original design remains in the nightclub, albeit possibly hidden from view. The photo above from 1937 shows a very stylish interior.

DavidZornig on March 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm

It’s interesting to see the slight upward grade of the side street to the cinema’s left.
I wonder if that played any role in how the ABC’s auditorium was originally laid out? Or if i was excavated further donward towards the screen. Assuming the screen was loacted at the back.

benrayner on March 15, 2009 at 2:16 pm

and altho the nightclub appears to have closed maybe there is hope for sensitive preservation in the following local paper report
Community church planning to expand into former nightclub
By Bev Peck

Scheme lodged with council to renovate Cubes

Dunstable Community Church, in High Street North, hopes to take over the former Cubes nightclub building. Plans have already been submitted to South Beds District Council to renovate and change the use of the former nightspot, which is just yards away from their original building.

The church is keen to move into the extra space due to massive growth during 2008. Senior pastor Doug Richards said: “We are excited about the chance to restore this property to its former glory and make it available for the use and enjoyment of the whole community.”

The church plans to keep its current building as its headquarters.

Everyone is welcome at Dunstable Community Church. Services take place every Sunday at 10.45am and 6pm.

For further details on the church, call the offices on 01582 477147 or visit

benrayner on March 15, 2009 at 2:12 pm

and an auditorium view from 1937 also on flickr.
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Ian on December 14, 2007 at 10:40 pm

An old picture from the 1980’s here:–

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