Report - Gaiety Cinema, Whitehaven - Nov 2009 - REPORT

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Jan 22, 2007
The Gaiety opened during the golden age of cinema on 15th April 1922 with a total of 1480 seats and was one of three cinemas in Whitehaven (the other two; the Queens and the Empire were demolished towards the end of the 1970's). The style of the Gaiety cinema was Greek and it had an elaborate fluted barrel-vaulted roof, still visible today.

In 1980 refurbishments split the cinema into 2 levels; the circle, retaining its original plasterwork, becoming a 264-seat cinema. The stalls were transformed into a bingo hall and the cinema section closed in 2003 due to competition from a multiplex in the next town. This left the bingo operation in the former stalls to continue to operate successfully.

As a child I remember watching movies such as The Cat from Outer Space (1978) and The Black Hole (1979) and even going to the cinema right up to its closure. I enjoyed going here, it has a charm and character that are unique.

Even today, everything still works, the curtains and screen blankings operate, lights and their dimmers work, even the projector (I'm told) works. Posters on the walls, pieces of film in their proper places, spares for the projector, various lenses ... all still in place. Wonderful.

Really, really good to see the place is still secure, unvandalised and undamaged by damp. The place is still for sale, how awesome would it be to run!!!!

I'm due some of these pictures appearing in the local paper during December, I'll see if I can post the article up when it happens.

This is the view which greeted you when queueing to buy for a ticket.

Welcome :)

The ticket booth - closed but everything still in place.

The Kiosk and foyer.

Staff rest area. Loads of building drawings on the table as the roof was recently repaired.

Behind the Kiosk.

Some posters on the wall, peeling off because the selotape was old :/

As you enter the cinema...




Some of the original Greek style decorations can still be seen behind some panels.

Tangier Street looking south;

Tangier Street looking north;

Stairs to the projection room

There were a load of 33rpm and even 78rpm records!

The power and battery room

A manual film winder

Back wall in the projection room. I used off-camera flash fitted with a red gel.

A control panel for the spooling system that feeds film too and from the projector. Again I used 3x flash gels to get the subtle colours on the panel.

The money shot - the main projector. Still in working condition - although needing a fine layer of dust removed :) Again shot with 3x flashes with gels fitted.

The projector as it would possibly have appeared projecting a movie. Simulated the effect with flash guns.

Projectionists' memoirs

A valve & PEC record - dates back to the 1930's are written on here.

A note read out during a screening is stuck to the back of a storage cabinet

Gawd save her

View from the screen looking back


I think you'll agree that this was a rather special explore.
All pictures are hosted by - full set is -HERE-

Equipment used;
- Manfrotto 055C tripod
- Manfrotto 222 joystick ball head
- Canon 1DmkIII
- Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L MKII USM
- Canon 580-EXII
- Canon TC-80N3
- Coloured gels


Last edited:
Likes: Zeebex


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Jan 30, 2007
I'm about halfway through installing the new projection and sound equipment.

It's a nice job for me, the Gaeity was the first cinema I ever set foot in as a projection engineer, best part of two decades ago.
Likes: horrgakx

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