Film ID:
NEFA 22176



Visitor Tabs


A short amateur documentary produced by Peter Dobing and George Theaker, looking back on the heyday of cinema in the town of Darlington and the problems facing the business in the late 1980s. The film begins with footage of the last day of the Odeon Cinema in Darlington which closed in 1981. This is followed by a history of cinema projection in the town using both contemporary film as well as historic images of the many cinemas. The film ends with a view of a local video shop, the latest threat to cinema attendance, but finishes on a positive note with regards plans for a new cinema for the town.

The film opens with a photograph of a large crowd which fades to a white square on a black background.

Title: Peter Dobing and George Theaker present

Title: We Went to the Pictures

The first sequence starts with a photograph this time of the Odeon cinema on Woodlands Road in Darlington sometime during the 1950s, followed by an article in the local Evening Dispatch newspaper dated June 1981 relating to the closure of the cinema. Other newspaper clips on the same subject follow. An invitation card to the opening of the Majestic Cinema, later to become the Odeon cinema, dates to 1932. More black and white photographs of the cinema follow. 

A movie poster adverises ‘The Cannonball Run’ at the Odeon on its last day, 24th October 1981. Manageress Roz Glaze pulls up outside the cinema on her moped, unlocks the cinema doors and wheels her bike inside. A small queue of children and parents wait outside the cinema for the next performance.

In the projection room, projectionist Harold Alderson winds a reel of 35mm film in readiness for the final performance. The two projectors run together with one coming to a stop as its reel ends. The projection room clock reads 9.20pm. Downstairs in the foyer, a customer leaves the cinema after the final show.

General views of Central Hall on Bull Wynd where the first motion pictures shown in the town were presented in February 1896. A series of both colour and black and white photographs then show the Empire, Arcade and Court Kinema cinemas. Exterior views follow of both the Court Kinema and Arcade cinemas both on Skinnergate in the town with the Kinema now a small arcade of shops and the Arcade a bingo hall.

General views of the Regent Bingo Hall, formerly Regent Cinema on Cobden Street off Yarm Road, which the narrator says was demolished in 1989. Next, there are exterior views of the Eldon Bingo centre, formally Scala cinema, on Eldon Street. On the roof of the building, the Scala names can still be seen imprinted on the tiles.

A cinema arc light is turned off. Black and white photographs and newspaper images are shown relating to the Alhambra cinema on Northgate. The cinema also had an orchestra and the photograph shown includes Peter Dobing’s uncle George who was a musician.

Next a series of photographic images feature the Theatre Royal and then the ABC cinema, as it was later known, on Northgate, both interior and exterior views.

Inside the projection room on the ground floor of the ABC, reels of 35mm film are set up on three sets of plates known as the cake-stands, which form part of an automatized projector system. The camera follows the film, from the cake-stand to the single projector. General views around the projection room follow.

Finally, there's an exterior view of ‘TEAICS Home Video’ shop. A set of plans show a proposed new multiplex cinema to be built along Yarm Road in the town.

End title: The End