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CINEMAS

ABC PLYMOUTH

Updated:  27 February 2013 

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 stage facilities.
 

But that did not last long as the ABC Group were anxious to maintain a corporate image and from October 26th 1958 it became the ABC Plymouth.  The seating capacity was apparently reduced to 2,124.

Danny Kaye in "Merry Andrews" had the support of "Blind Spot" during the first week.

The famous Liverpudlian rock group "The Beatles" appeared on stage at the ABC Plymouth for two performances on Wednesday November 13th 1963.  Not that you could hear their music, apparently.

The ABC Plymouth Cinema, Plymouth

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.  [1]

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.  [1]

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.


Sources (incomplete):

[1]  "Plymouth Girls 'Get Sent' by Beatles: Fans shriek, but behave well", and "'Plymouth Sound' drowns the Beatles: Screaming girl teenagers", Western Morning News, Plymouth, November 14th 1963.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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