Picture Palace

Quay Street,
Bangor, BT20

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Palace Pictures

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Before Irish Electric Palaces made a decision to move to Quay Street in 1915, there had been several ‘cinematograph entertainments’ on this site. On Easter Monday 1912 the Grand Hotel began to screen films in its ballroom which adjoined the hotel. These shows may only have lasted a week at most but the following year (March 1913) films were back again. Taking its name from the ballroom, the venture was now called Palace Pictures and was a considerable step up from the previous offering; the man behind it was William Johnston, who also owned the Grand Hotel. It had a longer life than its predecessor yet may not have lasted beyond six months.

On 22 March 1915, Irish Electric Palaces, while continuing to show films in the Picture House in Main Street, reopened the former premises of the short-lived Palace Pictures in Quay Street – the new cinema was called the Picture Palace. Mr. William A. Salmond, who had previously managed the Picture House, succeeding Mr. W. A. Campbell, moved to the Quay Street venue along with his staff and orchestra. ‘The spacious building had undergone extensive renovation and will be one of the most luxurious and beautiful houses in Ireland,’ the County Down Spectator reported.

The same paper’s report on 29th March 1915 was substantial and included the following information. A new screen, measuring 20’ x 15’ had been fitted with seating provided for around 700 customers. Irish Electric Palaces had taken over the lease for the building.

The licences for both cinemas were renewed in September 1915. Mr. Coulter, for the Council, said both houses had been conducted in the most satisfactory manner. Only the licence for the Picture Palace was renewed in September 1917 so it seems reasonable to assume that films had ceased at the Picture House by then. There is some evidence that the Picture House may have been used during the summer of 2018, as an alternative venue, in case of inclement weather, for live performances.

The Picture Palace was equipped with a British Thomas-Houston(BTH) sound system. Disaster struck the Picture Palace in September 1940. Mr. Lewis, the manager, said that 12,000 ft of film had been destroyed; he also mentioned that the cinema, which had seating for 700 persons, had been doing good business. The report in the Spectator, headed ‘Destructive Bangor Fire’, said that the Picture Palace and Barry’s Amusements which adjoined it were both gutted, the cost being put at many thousands of pounds. The last film shown was ‘Riders of the Sea’ starring Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. and Margaret Lockwood, which had been due to run for six days from the 23rd September.

Following the fire, Irish Electric Palaces did not attempt to reinstate the Picture Palace. The site was subsequently used by Barry’s for a ghost train ride; Barry’s had acquired the Grand Hotel in 1927, which they then converted into a highly successful amusement arcade.

For more on the Picture House, Main Street, see separate entry on Cinema Treasures for Adelphi Cinewma, Main Street, Bangor, Co. Down.

Contributed by Torchlight
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