Spanish City Picture House

Whitley Bay, NE26

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Essoldo Circuit (Contol) Ltd., Marks Circuit Cinemas

Architects: J.C. Coulson

Nearby Theaters

Spanish City Picture House

Located in the Tyneside holiday resort of Whitley Bay, to the north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Originally built as an aquarium in 1910 as part of the Spanish City Pleasure Garden complex. The building was converted into the Picture House by architect J.A, Coulson, and was opened on 10th August 1916 with “The Scarlet Sin”. The entrance was through a shop unit, close to the Salt Water Baths Pavilion, with the auditorium built behind.

In the early-1930’s, the Picture House was equipped with a British Thomson Houston(BTH) sound system, and it was taken over by the Stanley Rogers Cinemas Ltd. circuit. By the end of the 1930’s the E.J. Hinge Circuit had taken over Stanley Rogers Cinemas. It was closed at the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, and remained closed until late-1942. It re-opened under the Mark’s Circuit Cinemas of Manchester. Taken over by the Newcastle based Essoldo circuit in May 1949, they widened the entrance to include the adjacent shop unit.

The Picture House was equipped to screen CinemaScope films in the mid-1950’s. It closed for redecoration in March 1962, and it re-opened on 3rd June 1962 with “The Spartans”. However, it had only a short time to run, as it closed for the winter in October 1962, re-opening in spring of 1963 and finally closing on 28th September 1963 (when the lease expired). It was used as a bingo club from August 1964, and was later converted into an amusement arcade in 1965. This had closed by 2006 and the building was demolished during the renovation of the remaining Spanish City buildings.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

AllanNZ on November 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I was a Trainee Projectionist at the Picture House in 1950, from memory the No 1 was called Tommy and we were equipped with Kalee 8 projectors, Brockliss Monarch arc lamps and British Acoustics sound system, we showed the first 3D movies at that time with both projectors running in synchronisation via a universal joint connection. I used to relieve at the Playhouse Cinema as well when they were reequipped with the BTH Super projection system.

reely42 on April 17, 2016 at 6:38 am

My mother mother Mary Smith worked at the Picture House as a usherette in the 50,s,I used come to the cinema same time,Festival of Britain 3D and Rock Around the Clock were a couple of films I remember.

JohnGn on July 30, 2018 at 11:59 am

On Monday 23rd July 2018, the Spanish City buildings, after being closed for a considerable period of time for refurbishment, were reopened. It has now been converted into a restaurant and bar complex. I have uploaded a couple of photos I have taken to show it as it is now, and where the cinema used to be.

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