Last Reel at the Royalty

The Royalty cinema, Gosforth,
Newcastle upon Tyne










The Royalty cinema in Gosforth. Seen here in April 1982

It's 36 years since the Royalty cinema in Gosforth closed its doors for the final time, on 30 December 1981.


You can post your memories of the Royalty.


Watch the full video online (free)

Meet some of the staff and visit the cinema during its final days, in the documentary Last Reel at the Royalty. The video runs for 27 minutes and is split into four parts here.

Part 1: introduction


Part 3: in the projection room

The Royalty cinema on Gosforth High Street at dusk  

Introduction and brief history. The doors open and manageress Henrietta Eastlake explains why the cinema is closing.

John Tessa, projectionist at the Royalty cinema Gosforth  

The final film begins. Projectionist John Tessa
talks about 52 years working in cinemas and theatres. Mabel in the ticket office.

Part 2: meet the staff

Part 4: customers

The stalls foyer at the Royalty  

Meet the staff. Cashier Mabel Chappelhowe recalls 25 years of working at the Royalty. The interval (time for a hot-dog!).

Part of the Royalty's plasterwork  

The film comes to an end and some of the customers give their views. What happened to the Royalty next?


About the video

The original VHS master footage was transferred to a digital video format. For the first time it could be edited without any loss of quality. Professional tools were used to clean up and colour correct the shots and mix the sound. The film has never looked or sounded better and includes some shots that haven't been seen before.


The Royalty cinema, GosforthIn context

The beginning of the 1980s was a bleak time for Britain's cinemas and its film industry.

Cinema admissions had been in decline for a couple of decades (eventually they hit an all-time low in 1984) and the oil crisis of the 1970s had pushed up running costs. The home video-recorder was big news and no one knew what impact it would have on cinemas in the future.

In 1981, the British film industry made only 24 movies — the lowest figure since 1914 and one quarter of the number that had been made just two years earlier.

So, it was against this background that many cinemas like the Royalty pondered their future and looked for possible alternatives.


Other websites

Cinema World - a gallery of 433 images of cinemas on the photo-sharing site Flickr.

Kencta's Photos - more than 700 photos of cinemas around the world on the photo-sharing site Flickr.


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The Jesmond Picture House in 1981. In later years it was known as the Jesmond Cinema

The much-loved Jesmond Picture House was demolished in Autumn 2009

It opened during the era of 'silent' films in 1921 and was still doing good business during the 1970s and 1980s. This was due to the large student population in the area and the West Jesmond Metro station being right on the cinema's doorstep.

Few alterations were made to the Jesmond Picture House over the years, other than the conversion to sound and then later Cinemascope. In 1981 the entrance still had a 1920s feel to it.

But a new multiplex sealed its fate. It closed in 1993 and was left to deteriorate until part of the roof fell in and it became home to pigeons rather than pictures.

Another victim of our failure to value and protect these wonderful buildings (there is only one grade 1 listed cinema in the whole of England). With the destruction of the Picture House, Jesmond has lost a little bit of its history and character.

The photos above show the Picture House in happier days, back in spring 1981,when it was screening Airplane and Foul Play, with Stir Crazy advertised for the following week.

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