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The Wallaw Cinema

A Grade II Listed Building in Blyth, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1265 / 55°7'35"N

Longitude: -1.5081 / 1°30'29"W

OS Eastings: 431466

OS Northings: 581452

OS Grid: NZ314814

Mapcode National: GBR K9X5.93

Mapcode Global: WHC30.TD1T

Entry Name: The Wallaw Cinema

Listing Date: 22 January 1998

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1031569

English Heritage Legacy ID: 469033

Location: Blyth, Northumberland, NE24

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Blyth

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Blyth St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

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Listing Text

BLYTH
NZ3187SW The Wallaw Cinema

1395/1/10002

22-JAN-1998
II

Cinema and Theatre. Opened as a cinema in 1937 by Percy Lindsay Browne, Son and Harding of Newcastle upon Tyne, the job architect was most probably Charles Alfred Harding.

MATERIALS: Moderne style in brick and cement render with concrete parapet; plasterwork by Webster Davidson and Co. Ltd of Sunderland, streamlined Moderne lighting fixtures by Devereux Moody and Co. Ltd of Newcastle.

EXTERIOR: The auditorium is set back and ranged left at a ninety degree angle to the main facade. The entrance doors are divided into 1+2+1 rhythm with a sheltering canopy. There are three vertical windows at first floor level in cut brick surrounds with rendered and moulded sill and lintel; the whole facade is surmounted by a rendered parapet with three main steppings and a central forward projection. The right return wall has three storeys with central, symmetrically placed horizontal windows, a 'pylon' feature to the left with a narrow, triple-height window, terminating in an emergency stair tower to the right expressed with another triple-height window turning the rear wall.

INTERIOR: four sets of original entrance doors lead to steps up to main foyer level. The steps are flanked by five handrails, the three middle rails with Art Deco styling. The double-height foyer has two symmetrical flights of stairs rising to a landing. Solid balustrades with a central metal section over the stalls entrance carry symmetrically positioned stylized 'W' (for Wallaw) . There are three bands of plaster moulding in Moderne style on flank walls. The coved ceiling has a central panel embellished with scalloping with a triple stage Art Deco pendant light in the centre. The inner or stalls foyer is entered through a small lobby followed by an eccentric shaped space with a circular ceiling cove to suggest a rotunda. Both spaces have streamlined Moderne light fittings and an Art Deco grille to conceal the radiator. Original Moderne doors give access to the inner stalls foyer, which has Moderne mouldings on its ceiling and similarly styled streamlined light fittings. The double-height auditorium is arranged with raked floor stalls and a stepped balcony with the rear stalls divided off to create two small late C20 auditoria. The rectangular proscenium has flanking Moderne pilasters (that to left with clock). All of the lighting is indirect, from fibrous plaster coves. The ceiling has principal and subsidiary coves above the balcony with a continuous streamlined Moderne plaster feature in the middle cove with ventilation ducts. There are three vomitories in the balcony with streamlined timber batten decoration. Original doors from the foyer landing give access to the balcony foyer. This is enriched with Moderne decoration on ceiling and cornice, with a leaf and rosette pattern in relief plaster on the rounded wall cheeks at the vomitory entrances.

HISTORY: This building, which opened as a cinema in 1937, was designed by Percy Hedley Browne, Son and Harding of Newcastle upon Tyne and the job architect is believed to be Charles Alfred Harding. Research has shown that this firm and its forebears were a leading and prolific cinema practice in the north east of England. The plasterwork was by Webster Davison and Co Ltd. of Sunderland and the streamlined Moderne light fixtures are by Devereux Moody and Co Ltd of Newcastle. During the 1980s the rear of the stalls was subdivided to form two separate small auditoria. The cinema closed in 2004 with a final showing of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ', and has remained empty since that time. The practice established by Percy Lindsay Browne in 1911 was one of the most prolific designers of cinemas to be found in the north east, and this is understood to be their best surviving work.

SOURCES: Richard Gray, 'Cinemas in Britain', London, Lund Humphries, 1996, p.137

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: this cinema of 1937 is designated in Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* The practice established by Percy Lindsay Browne in 1911 was one of
the most prolific designers of cinemas to be found in the north east,
and this cinema is understood to be their best surviving work

* It is a rare and good example of a 1930s streamlined Moderne style
cinema which is manifest in both its exterior architecture and its
interior elaboration

* It possesses well executed decorative detailing

* It survives in a little altered state both externally and internally
with several original internal features and fixtures
surviving intact.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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