Odeon Byker

308 Shields Road,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2UU

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Black's Theatres, Rank Organisation

Architects: Edwin M. Lawson

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Black's Regal Cinema

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Odeon Byker

Located in the Byker district of Newcastle upon Tyne. The Regal Cinema was built for Alfred Black and became one of the Black’s Regal chain of cinemas, and opened on 3rd September 1934 with William Powell and Bette Davis in “Fashions of 1934” plus a stage show.

Designed by Newcastle architect Edwin M. Lawson in an Art Deco style, building was located on a corner site, and was domindated by a tall square tower. Seating in the auditorium was provided for 1,152 in the stalls and 525 in the circle. The cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Ranks organ which was opened by organist J. Arnold Eagle.

The Regal Cinema was taken over by Circuit Management Association(CMA) later the Rank Organisation and re-named Odeon on 14th November 1955. The Compton organ was removed from the building in 1969, and was shipped to the Spanish island of Majorca. The Odeon was closed on 11th November 1972 with Robert Redford in "How To Steal a Diamond"(aka"The Hot Rock").

The building stood empty and unused for many years, as a bingo club licence was applied for, and refused. In 1982, it was gutted internally and converted into a supermarket, known as the Byker Superstore. This was a short lived venture, and it was closed and the building was demolished in early-1987. A Shell petrol station was built on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Roboot on December 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

My Mother worked here for many years during the late 60’s and early 70’s. I spent many hours with her there, sitting next to her in the ticket boot, refreshments kiosk and helping to ‘take tickets’ and count the ice creams in the ‘fridge room’ even though I was only a child!

Needless to say I had great fun there and got to know the staff at the time and got to see all the latest releases. I remember the liner style deco interior and a glass observation screen up on the circle level at the top of a sweeping staircase.

The photo here from Mr Roe shows ‘The Jungle Book’ this is exactly the time that I’m describing and I was lucky enough to be given the cut out figures of the characters at the time – another great treat for a small child of the times.

nic1946 on August 10, 2014 at 3:29 am

My mother worked at this cinema as a cashier in the late 40’s, much later when we moved to Whitley Bay in the early 50’s I think I must have been 7 maybe 8 we had a neighbour who used to be the organist there and I can remember one morning with my newly acquired tape recorder going with him and sitting in the front of the circle recording while he played. I was also shown the organ chambers, amazing!

project on August 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I was lucky enough to watch many films here as a child, and thank’s to my parents taking me, i developed a fascination for cinema buildings which has stayed with me. Blacks Regal or the Odeon Byker as I knew it closed when I was a young boy. I remember passing it when it was being boarded up just after closure. Ever since then I always wanted to get Inside to see if it was how I remembered it. I managed to do this in 1979 after seven years of closure. Unfortunately the building was badly vandalised but it still held a fascination for me as I explored every inch of it over a period of years until its demolition In 1987, after being used as a supermarket. I managed to get a lot of photo’s of the interior and exterior from various sources, including from the last manager Bob Spurs. I took a lot of photos of the building derelict and during demolition. I also managed to salvage a few momentos including a copper and glass art deco wall light from the auditorium and poster frames etc. This building was inspirational to me and started my love for cinema buildings. I then made a career out of working in cinemas as a projectionist and later manager thanks to the Odeon Byker and my parents taking me there.

Roboot on August 1, 2015 at 11:30 pm

Hello ‘project’, Did you ever work at the Wallaw Cinema in Blyth? I was manager there for a short while.

project on August 20, 2015 at 3:22 am

Hi Roboot, yes i did work at the Wallaw, many happy years.

KeithBrewster on November 21, 2015 at 12:46 pm


Like previous contributors, this was the local cinema for me as a child (1950s).

It was located at the top of the Fossway and our house was a few hundred yards further down.

Most visits were for the Saturday matinee but also saw quite a few evening films.

What I remember that is so odd now is that you could just show up and go in at any time and watch the film from that point onwards and then sit through the next showing to watch the first part of the film. And then when you got to the point where you first went in, go home.

I was too young to realise its Deco architecture but it has always been my favourite style.

It is sad that it ended its days so badly. If it had escaped the vandals it would be a asset to the Newcastle landscape.

terry on November 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

Photo of Bob Spurs uploaded to relevant section…..

ProjectionistBykerOdeon on November 7, 2016 at 10:08 am

I worked here late 60’s – early 70’s Jimmy Simpson was “Chief"Bob Spurs was Manager I remember the Joe Marsh and his son (Also Joe) who restored the Organ and used to play it if we had a film with an Intermission. When the M.D. of the rank Organisation (Davies?) visited they played for him, he had it re-located to a Spanish Hotel a few weeks later.

project on November 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

Hi Projectionist Byker Odeon. Do you happen to have any photographs of the Odeon.

Mell_Taylor on September 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm

The cinema was built for George Black’s brother, Alfred. George Black ran the variety theatres known as Moss Empire, of which the London Palladium was the jewel in the crown, whereas my grandfather, Alfred, was a film man. Their younger brother Edward was with Gainsborough Pictures and produced films during the war such as Millions Like Us (starring Patricia Roc and Eric Porter) and The Man in Grey (with James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger). Both Edward and George died in the 1940s. I believe the chain were sold to Curzon in 1965 when my grandfather retired. Alfred Black died in 1973.

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