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Report - Stockport Plaza Super Cinema - May 2012 (pic Heavy)

Discussion in 'Theatres and Cinemas' started by Camera Shy, May 24, 2012.

  1. Camera Shy

    Camera Shy Old enough to know better
    Regular User

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    Well as a resident of Stockport for pretty much all my life, I am ashamed to say this is the first time I have ever been into an absolute gem of a building considered to be one of, if not the finest example of a 1930's cinema in the North West.

    I have put this as a permission visit as I did call in and ask, I was allowed in by the lady in the foyer but with restrictions to the downstairs audatorium only, I did however get a little lost in there as you do :D

    I enjoyed it in here so much I was happy to pay a donation towards the continued restoration on the way out, they do proper tours here so anyone in the area i would encourage to check it out as it's a fabulous place.



    In 1932 The Plaza opnened on 7th October 1932 with completed with a seating capacity of in excess of 1850. It was commissioned by the Reid, Snape and Ward cinema circuit and designed by Architect, W Thornley of Wigan in an Art Deco style. It was, and still could be, described as the most architecturally sophisticated public entertainment building ever to be constructed in Stockport.
    The Plaza first opened its doors with a charity show for the Stockport Infirmary. The films shown were “Jailbird”, starring Laurel and Hardy, and “Out of the Blue” with Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews. Ticket prices ranged from 7d (3p) to 2/- (10p). Built at this time, The Plaza stood on the cusp between silent movies and the talkies; it looked both backwards and forwards. It also created a luxurious escape for people accustomed to the hard life of a Northern industrial town.
    The Plaza began a programme of entertainment never seen before in Stockport with a mix of cinema and live performance. Shows included a silent newsreel, accompanied by The Plaza orchestra, featuring the Compton organ played by resident organist, Mr Cecil Chadwick.
    The history of The Plaza is not without controversy. The Stockport Advertiser rallied against the new theatre, denouncing it as a bad influence on the town’s youth and complaining that it had been constructed by “outside labourers”, at the height of The Depression. Local newspapers initially refused to take The Plaza adverts.
    During the war, the town’s cinemas remained popular with many residents taking the view that The Plaza, being cut into a rock face, was one of the safest places to be during an air raid. The opening brochure had, in fact, boasted that nothing short of an earthquake could disturb the building.
    The Plaza was refurbished in the 1950’s and continued to prosper in spite of the national decline in audiences. The 1953 Coronation proved a watershed in the acquisition of television sets and this, combined with the growth of other social pursuits, sealed the fate of many cinemas. By the late 1950’s, some Super Cinemas, barely 20 years old, were closing their doors and some were demolished.
    In 1965 the Plaza was sold to the Mecca Leisure Group for conversion to a Bingo hall. The switch to bingo was fought by Stockport Council but Mecca appealed to the Government and won their case. The Plaza's final show was on 31st December 1966 and featured Jerry Lee Lewis in “Three on a Coach” and Audie Murphy in “The Texican” and William Starr at the organ. Rank Leisure sold the Plaza to Stockport Plaza Trust in March 2000 and, after massive community and volunteer effort, audiences took their seats for the opening show on 7th October 2000.
    1999
    Cinema closes as a Bingo Hall
    2000 (Aug)
    listing upgraded to II* by English Heritage
    2000
    Purchased by the Stockport Plaza Trust
    2007
    The Heritage Lottery Fund approves a Stage 1 application for funding of £1.9m towards Phase 1 of the restoration of the Plaza
    2009 (Feb)
    Jimmy Carr officially closes the Plaza with two sell out shows and work begins on Restoration and Refurbishment of the Stockport Plaza
    2009 (May)
    'Plaza on Tour' commences - a host of events in alternative venues throughout the region during the Plaza's closure
    2009 (Dec)
    The Plaza reopens following a £3.2 million restoration



    Pictures....

    The front facade


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    Receptions....

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    2 Tiered Auditorium.....


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    Features.....


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    The Organ.....


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    Projection Room.....


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    Apologies for overkill on the pictures but this place is so photogenic i couldn't help myself.

    Cheers for looking :thumb
     
    #1 Camera Shy, May 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012

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