Tower Cinema

New Street,
York, YO1

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FanaticalAboutOdeon on March 18, 2014 at 3:18 am

The incendiary bomb fell through the roof and started a fire towards the rear of the auditorium which largely destroyed the balcony. After repairs were completed, only a very few, short rows were left at the rear of the former balcony and these were above the main foyer – no part of the “overhanging” balcony was ever reinstated and the auditorium thereafter felt like a very high stadium style layout with a large “private box” set into the rear wall. The Tower was a handsome cinema internally and is still fondly remembered by older citizens for being the first cinema in York to install both CinemaScope and stereophonic sound for the City’s first run of “South Pacific” – an initial run of seven weeks in 1958 and several return runs during the ensuing years. It became the longest run of any entertainment, stage or screen, in York in a large, unsubdivided hall and it’s a run that has never been exceeded. The Tower’s owners had been quick to invest in the new screen and sound system once Rank (who owned the Odeon and Gaumont circuits and would normally have had first call on “Fox” product) refused to install stereophonic sound in all of their cinemas for “South Pacific”. This led to York’s larger and more modern Odeon being denied the initial run of what was to become one of the most successful films ever made. Rank’s large, big city “road show” cinemas like London’s Dominion and Leeds Majestic showed the film in 70mm. Todd-AO and it ran at the former for over four years – another record.
York Tower’s wide screen was set within a chamfered rectangular proscenium arch comprising three concealed lighting troughs containing amber lamps. The curtains were brown with a bold, appliqued black satin horizontal stripe near the bottom, descending step-like towards the centre and lit by red-filtered footlights. An outstanding cinema – much missed in York almost half a century after closure.