The Royalty cinema, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne

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The Royalty cinema in Gosforth. Seen here in April 1982The Royalty cinema in Gosforth. Seen here in April 1982The Royalty cinema in Gosforth. Seen here in April 1982

It's 39 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.

 

In autumn 1981 I had taken a year off from higher education. I was running a small business making wedding videos and working a few hours a week at Gosforth Library.

Outside the doors of the Royalty Cinema When I heard the Royalty might close, I felt something should be done to record the cinema and the friendly people who worked there. The result was a documentary video, photographs and reels of movie film.

The Newcastle City Libraries and Beamish Museum have held VHS copies of the documentary since the 1980s. But now you can enjoy it online.

New archive area

The video documentary

Meet some of the staff and visit the cinema during its final days, in the documentary Last Reel at the Royalty.

New for 2020!

The full 27-minute documentary, plus more than two hours of extras — most of which are made available here for the first time in almost 40 years. Introducing our Archive Collection which you can access for 30 days for a small one-time payment.

What's inside?

See the index page.

Unused video material recorded at the Royalty and out-takes: from interviews, scenes around the cinema, a residents' meeting and many unused exterior shots. New archive area

Three Super 8 movie films of the demolition (approximately 10 mins).

A video slide show of photographs of Newcastle cinemas in 1980 and 1981. Most pictures never published before. The Pavilion, Tatler, ABC, Odeon...

Other video clips of Gosforth in 1980 and 1981: street scenes, charity shops, the Metro, the A1, schools, 80s buses and cars. And video of the day before Robinson's pet shop on the High Street closed its doors.

The documentary and other video content from the 1980s is presented at 640x480 resolution at 50 frames per second which retains the "video look" of the original footage. The documentary features:

Introduction

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.

Meet the staff

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!).

In the projection room

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.

Customers

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?

 

Get 30 days access for a one-time payment of £2.49

You don't need a PayPal account. Payment will show as "R.G.Stafford".

 

The technical side

The recordings were transferred to a digital video format. Fortunately the original tapes are still in great condition. But time is running out for all tape formats and the equipment to play them on.

For the first time editing could happen without any loss of quality. Professional tools were used to clean up and colour correct the shots and mix the sound. The documentary 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 considered their future and looked for 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.

JESMOND PICTURE HOUSE

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. Read more.

 

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