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13 November 2014

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Gaumont cinema Worcester

Gaumont cinema Worcester

The Gaumont Cinema

The old Gaumont, now a bingo hall, was state-of-the-art when it opened in 1935. It also hosted concerts by everyone from Buddy Holly to the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.

Go to the stages of the walk

The Gaumont cinema, like so many built in the boom times of the 1930s, is now a bingo hall - but it has a fascinating history, having hosted gigs by Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Mott The Hoople and David Bowie.

When the cinema opened, on 28 October 1935, it was at the cutting edge of cinema technology, with a design by W.E.Trent and Ernest Tulley that featured some striking architecture.

The facade is dominated by the five large windows above the traditional cinema canopy - these originally threw light into a 100 seat restaurant, that later became a disco, and is now the dojo of Worcester Judo Club.

Inside the cinema were 1,740 seats, some of which were specially equipped for "deaf people and those who were hard of hearing" as the opening advert boasted.

To watch the opening film, The 39 Steps featuring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll (and three other films), you would have had to pay anything from two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) for the front circle, down to sixpence (2.5p) for a seat in the stalls.

The advert in the Worcester Evening News for opening night also boasted that the Gaumont offered patrons free parking.

If four films weren't enough, then there was also entertainment provided by "John Bee at the mighty illuminated Compton Organ".

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Pop and rock

The Gaumont also had a very large stage - 70' wide and 40' deep - which was one reason why the venue was able to host some of the top rock and pop acts, including:

  • Buddy Holly - the bespectacled rocker played two shows at the Gaumont on 11 March 1958, the year before his tragic death in a plane crash.
  • The Beatles played there twice - once supporting Roy Orbison on his 1963 tour, and once as a headline act, later in the same year.
  • The Rolling Stones also played there a couple of times - in October and December 1963.
  • Jimi Hendrix played a four number gig at the Gaumont on 2 April 1967 - as one of the support acts on a tour by The Walker Brothers - also on the package were Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck.
  • In June 1973 David Bowie played one of his last ever gigs in the guise of Ziggy Stardust.
  • Mott The Hoople - played there on 15 November 1973, at the height of their fame, supported by the then unknown Queen.

last updated: 27/02/2009 at 11:17
created: 27/02/2009

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