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CINEMAS

GAUMONT PALACE

Updated:  27 February 2013 

In March 1929 it was announced that the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd were to erect a new cinema to replace the Andrews' Picture Palace.

The Gaumont Palace was opened on Monday November 16th 1931 by the Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman George Dymond, assisted by Lady Astor.  Mr Leslie James entertained the audiences on the Compton organ during the intervals that week.

The Gaumont's first manager and licensee was Mr R E Eady and the advertised prices were: front circle 2s; back circle 1/6d; front stalls 7d; back stalls 1s. There were continuous performances from 2 until 10.30pm.

Mr Maurice Leacey was the Chief Projectionist.  In later years he recalled the opening day as a memorable one. Traffic in Union Street was halted by the large crowds who had gathered to see Lady Astor. There was a rumour that Charlie Chaplin would be present but that was not to be. Inside the cinema Mr Leacey and his colleagues were hoping that nothing would go wrong and luckily that was just how the opening show went -- without a hitch. Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge appeared in "The Ghost Train".  The supporting film was "Almost a Divorce" starring Sydney Howard.

From March 25th 1941 it was known simply as the Gaumont Cinema.  It closed during the Plymouth Blitz but reopened on Monday May 5th 1941 showing the film "Son of Monte Cristo" from Midday until 8pm only.

Boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 were to be admitted to special cinema shows on Saturday mornings for a maximum admission price of 6d.  This proposal was adopted by the Plymouth City Council on Monday June 3rd 1946.  Only the Gaumont Palace, Odeon Cinema and Royal Cinema were involved.  [1]

The Gaumont Palace closed on Saturday December 2nd 1961.  Mr A M Edwards had been its manager for the last eleven years while the chief projectionist was still Mr Maurice Leacey.  Another long-serving member was Mr Jack Spencer, who had transferred over when the Savoy was destroyed, and who had been in charge of boiler maintenance since 1946.  The last films shown were "Francis of Assissi" and "Temple of the Swinging Doll".

Closure was in preparation for its conversion into the Top Rank Entertainment Centre, the cinema part becoming the New Odeon.  The cinema's Compton organ was sold to Mr Cecil Howett and was moved to the Embankment Road Methodist Chapel.


Sources:

[1]  "Shows for Children: Plymouth Kinemas to Open on Saturday Mornings", Western Morning News, Plymouth, June 4th 1946.

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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