The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
On April 11th
1937 the Theatre Royal in
George Street, Plymouth, was demolished and replaced in July
1938 by a brand new Royal Cinema,
owned by Associated British Cinemas. In 1954 it was renamed the Theatre Royal after the installation of new
The audience, mostly female, screamed continuously throughout the shows and the local press claimed that they probably went home afterwards to play Beatles records so that they could claim they had seen and heard the Beatles but not at the same time. Supporting acts were the Kestrels, Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers, the Vernon Girls and comedian Frank Berry. 
First in the queue for the first performance were 14-years-old Miss Joan Dunlop and 13-years-old Miss Margaret Hoskins, from Efford, Plymouth. Plymouth's Chief Constable, Mr J F Skittery, commented that the young audience were 'highly excited but perfectly well behaved'. The Beatles stayed the night at the hotel on Burgh Island, Bigbury-on-Sea. 
The ABC Plymouth closed on Saturday October 30th 1976 in readiness for yet another conversion. Its manager, Mr Bill Clarke, also retired on that day. The last films were "The Likely Lads", starring Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, and "Steptoe & Son" with Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett.
It reopened on Thursday May 5th 1977 as EMI's 40th triple screen cinema, seating respectively 578, 367 and 122 people. There was also a bingo hall holding 1,200. The new manager was Mr Clive Jones from the ABC at Cheltenham.
The balcony had been extended forward and a soundproof wall then built up, creating two cinemas on the old balcony area. ABC 1 was described as blue broken by purple horizontal bands with green and blue seats in alternate rows. ABC 2 was purple and red with seats in two shades of red. ABC 3 was blue with light blue seats and gold drapes.
The projection equipment consisted of Philips projectors and non-re-wind systems and Kinton sound machines. It was all fully automatic.
The first films were: in
ABC 1 "The Enforcer" starring Clint Eastwood; in ABC 2
"The Sentinel" with Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines and John Carradine; and in
ABC 3 "The Big Bus" plus "25 Years Impressions" .
The ABC Plymouth was renamed the Cannon Cinema from January 7th 1987, after the ABC circuit had been purchased by an Israel-based company.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
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