ABC Haymarket Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU

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terry on July 9, 2023 at 9:29 am

In 1964 a Gala Film Premiere was held for ‘4 For Texas’ when the Front Circle price was 5 guineas (about £80 today). There was a stage presentation which included Cleo Laine, Jimmy Tarbuck, Oliver Reed, Jess Conrad, Ronald Fraser, James Booth and Elisa Peake. (see image in photos section).

terry on April 4, 2021 at 2:10 am

Colour interior image dating back to 1955 (when all original lighting was in use) uploaded to photos section. This is courtesy of Kevin Gooding and would be a much better shot to appear with the overview than the existing one which was taken in the cleaners lights following closure.

terry on January 20, 2021 at 1:32 am

Photo uploaded of the Press/Trade Show of ‘The Rebel’ at the ABC Haymarket in 1961.

terry on July 17, 2019 at 5:36 am

2 1955 pics uploaded.

davidcoppock on June 1, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Is there anything there now on that site?

terry on September 18, 2016 at 4:26 am

Four photos uploaded of the auditorium in the houselights taken a few days before closure.

Unfortunately, the cable for the tabs had just ‘given up the ghost’. Steve Veasey, ABC Furnishing Manager, had ordered new curtains and a pelmet for the Haymarket in 1980 but the latter failed to materialise for some unknown reason.

The fountains were only partially illuminated latterly and many of the elaborate light fittings had been removed during a 1976 re-dec. Furthermore, most of the trough lighting had also been disconnected.

By and large, though, the photos give a hint of what the place had looked like in its heyday.

terry on August 2, 2016 at 7:00 am

I have not found the actual photo (it was in a desk drawer at the Haymarket long after the death of Doug Parkin) but I have found a link to – presumably – the same image :–

terry on June 23, 2016 at 11:44 pm

Something never mentioned about the Haymarket: there was a very large restaurant on the first floor, the windows of which can be seen on all photos of the Front of House. Access was via large glass doors from the Dress Circle foyer.

It was the best cinema restaurant in Newcastle in terms of size and position with a panoramic vista of the busy Haymarket and the top of Northumberland Street.

It was used for V.I.P./Press Receptions until Newcastle University acquired it (as part of their Archaeology Dept) after when receptions were held in the offices/rear circle foyer area. If it was a particularly large function a nearby hotel suite would be hired.

I had a photograph of Tony Hancock with G.M, C D E Parkin in the restaurant for the launch of either ‘The Rebel’ or ‘The Punch and Judy Man’ and – guess what – I have mislaid it (like many others)….

If and when I locate it I shall upload it to the usual section.

terry on March 23, 2016 at 10:25 am

Image uploaded to photos section.

terry on July 3, 2015 at 7:36 am

3 photos of the auditorium have been uploaded. Sadly, these were taken in the cleaners lights the day following closure and the theatre looks far from at its best as a consequence……

terry on July 3, 2015 at 7:13 am

I have read various comments about this theatre over the years and they often allude to it being not particularly large whilst having no type of stereophonic sound. The latter observation is certainly true but this often applied to Circuit Houses particularly where they had Roadshow or other venues elsewhere in a city where 70mm and 6 track magnetic stereo were promoted features. So, in defence of the old Haymarket, I would say the following……….

The promoters of the original 1280 capacity cinema (ABC later extended the building and increased the capacity to 2000) claimed that it could easily have seated 1700 and this I am prepared to believe as the stepping in the Dress Circle (10 rows) was very generous and the legroom was better than that in the Royal Circle seating sections of both the Paramount/Odeon and Essoldo cinemas. The Rear Circle, which was added by ABC and consisted of a further 10 rows, was less generously spaced as was invariably the case in 1930’s cinemas.

The ABC Haymarket was made a compulsory purchase by neighbouring Newcastle University in the 1950’s and leased back to ABC always on short term leaseholds.

ABC were not prepared to lavish large capital investments in the rather old fashioned building with the ‘Sword of Damocles’ ever present.

When Douglas Parkin transferred to the Haymarket Newcastle as Manager from the Ritz Wigan in 1960 , Associated British Cinemas told him that he would not be there for long as there were plans to build a new luxury stadium style cinema in the city (rather like ABC Sheffield) to where he and the staff would transfer; this did not come to fruition.

The old Haymarket carried on for years on this basis although it always took a fortune at the box office and ranked as one of the biggest moneymakers in the UK and Film Distributors vied to play their latest releases there. In its heyday this was the house which played all MGM, Warner Bros and ABPC’s (Associated British Picture Corporation based at Elstree Studios and the Film Production arm of ABC) top films.

By 1974 Newcastle University were becoming even more intransigent with the terms of the cinema’s lease and ABC were operating on ‘six month permits’ – a situation which was most unsatisfactory. At this time Classic Cinemas, who operated the former Essoldo Westgate Road, found themselves in dire financial difficulties and offered the Westgate Road luxury twin cinema to ABC who purchased it.

As soon as Newcastle University learned about ABC’s now secure foothold in the city they ‘climbed down’ and offered ABC a five year lease on the Haymarket which ABC accepted and they then fully refurbished the old cinema and ran it in conjunction with Westgate Road ; the lease was subsequently renewed for a further five years during which period it was still well maintained.

In order of seating capacity Newcastle cinemas ranked as follows:–

1) Odeon 2602 2) Essoldo 2109 3) Haymarket 2002 4) Gaumont 1870 5) Pavilion 1585 6) Queens 1403 7) Stoll 1370 8) Olympia 1100 9) Gaiety 875 10)Grainger 775 11) Tatler 437 12) Bijou News Theatre (now the Tyneside) 412

The above capacities are those of each venue at its largest capacity wise; they were all modified over the years and most notably reductions occurred when CinemaScope was introduced and seats were removed from the front stalls owing to the greater screen width encroaching on the original sight lines.

So the Haymarket at 2000 plus seats was hardly small, was it?

The cinemas listed are those in the city centre as opposed to the suburbs such as Byker , Gosforth and Jesmond – however the Haymarket was still larger than any venues in those locations.

The source of the seating capacities is ‘Cinemas Of Newcastle’ by Frank Manders published by Newcastle City Libraries. It is worth noting that in cases like the Stoll and Pavilion , even more drastic seating losses occurred following closures of upper circles (the ‘Gods’)….

Here is what the planned replacement of the Haymarket Theatre would have looked like in the early 1960’s:–…

terry on July 3, 2015 at 6:16 am

Dixon Scott, the entrepreneur responsible for the Haymarket (in its original form), the Bijou News Theatre (now the Tyneside), the Princes North Shields (later Gaumont and subsequently Odeon)and, I believe, the Regal Jarrow, was the great uncle of director brothers Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.

erict on June 30, 2015 at 5:55 am

does anybody have any photos taken inside the cinema, I was a friend of Toney Hartley and spent a lot of time there in the early 1980s. any photos, any quality would be fantastic…thanks

NThomson on September 26, 2010 at 6:58 am

HI, I took a few slides before closure, when Paul Beck kindly let me into the building to photograph it…..
Did you know Paul at all ??
I knew Tony Hartley too….
I worked at the Queens and Odeon as projectionist *


3rictaylor on February 16, 2009 at 12:51 am

during the early 1980s i was fortunate enough to know one of the projectionist, at the haymarket cinema, in newcastle. (i wont give out his name as i am no longer in touch)
i was around 16 years old and loved the cinema and to be given the chance to help out in the projection/winding room etc, was a dream come true.i can still smell the carbon-arc rods burnig away and the clatter of the twin peerless projectors.i can remember standing on the stage, behind the screen(it was like a giant tea-bag, full of holes)and being dwarfed by the huge speaker system. the sound boomed out through the hole-filled screen and out to the audience(no stereo here?)i wandered how the image was able to be reflected back, given that there were more holes than screen?.i was also showed the remnants of the original projection room(prior to the upper circle being built). inside the cieling area of the stalls, the chared remains of a large fire(from many years ago)was still in evidence and the position of the projection box could still be imagined(very spooky but wonderfully romantic, at the same time)
i remember the transition from 20 minute single reels to the more modern, cake-stand formular(no need for change overs/cue dots/rewinding reels by hand etc)
and the refiting of powerful light bulbs, instead of hazardous carbon-arc rods. the new system came along with the re-introduction of 3-D movies, somewhere between 1982-3, friday the 13th, jaws-3 and the rest of the short lived, though effective, polarized-stereo movies.i lost touch with my friend,through some personal circumstances and didnt get back the newcastle until after the cinemas closure, and was amazed to find it demolished in a matter of months. i have fond memories of all of the cinemas in and around newcastle…the essoldo, queens, odeon, studios 1-4, apollo, but i will alway hold the haymarket as my favourite. aside from a few trinkets that i saved from the winding room floor, i never got any photos of the wonderful interior or the exterior and have found it nearly impossible to track any down. if anyone can help(for my own personal use)i would be very grateful…thank you.

terry on August 6, 2002 at 11:59 pm

Since compiling the above profile I have found copies of the opening souvenir brochures for the Haymarket both in its original form in 1933 and the super enlarged version of 1936.

The architects on both occasions were Dixon and Bell of Newcastle Upon Tyne and the opening presentation at the theatre’s re-launch on August 31st 1936 was M-G-M’s ‘A NIGHT AT THE OPERA’ starring The Marx Brothers.

There is a page near the back of the 1936 brochure with the following announcement:–

“Do you know that Associated British Cinemas broadcast a programme of latest film news every week from the following stations:–

Poste Parisiene……….Every Saturday Night at 11 p.m.

Radio Normandy………Every Monday Morning at 9.30 a.m.

This Broadcast is of particular interest to Haymarket Patrons as it gives you information about some of the films which will be coming to this theatre"

Yes, I can just imagine that most citizens of Newcastle Upon Tyne would have been avid listeners of the aforementioned FRENCH radio stations…