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Theatres in Gloucester, Gloucestershire

The Regal Theatre - The Gloucester Hippodrome - Palmer's Picturedrome / Olympus Theatre

See also in this area - Cheltenham Theatres

The Regal Theatre, 33 St. Aldgate Street, Gloucester

Later ABC / Cannon / Weatherspoon's Regal Pub

The former Regal Theatre, Gloucester in January 2018 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

Above - The former Regal Theatre, Gloucester in January 2018 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

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The Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The Regal Theatre was constructed as a large Cinema with stage facilities, and was in fact the last Picture Palace to be built in Gloucester. Construction of the Theatre began in 1939 to the designs of ABC's in house architect W. R. Glen, but the outbreak of the Second World War shortly afterwards put the project on hold for many years. Construction of the Theatre began again decades later in 1955, and this time to modified designs by W. R Farrow (shown below left).

Right - The Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Architect, W. R. Farrow - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The Theatre, when it opened on the 19th of March 1956, had seating for nearly 1,500 people on two levels, stalls and one circle, and was also fitted out with a fully equipped stage, 25 foot deep, with five dressing rooms for artistes.

Left - Architect, W. R. Farrow - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

The opening presentation at the Regal Theatre was the showing of the films 'Now and Forever' and 'Night Plane to Amsterdam', with Hubert Selby playing a temporarily installed Hammond Organ in the intermissions.

An All Star Variety Bill featuring David Whitfield - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The first live performance at the Regal was on the 16th of April when the singer David Whitfield and an accompanying variety Bill were staged at the Theatre for a week. Although it was built primarily as a Cinema the Regal would nonetheless go on to stage live shows on its stage regularly right up until 1974.

Right - An All Star Variety Bill featuring David Whitfield - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

A page from the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The Regal's opening night Souvenir Brochure carried some interesting details for the Theatre which I have transcribed below:-

'The Regal Cinema was actually commenced in 1939 to the design of the late William R. Glen, F.R.I.A.S., L.R.I.B.A., but had to be suspended in the national interest upon the outbreak of war.

It was not until 1955 that the removal of the restrictions upon building enabled construction to be resumed, and the theatre has been completed by the Company's present architect, W. R. Farrow. A.R.I.B.A., assisted by Mr. K. Smith, assistant architect responsible for site works, and Mr. G. McFarlane and Mr. P. Turner who were responsible for the interior decor.

Left - A page from the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Hours of Opening and Prices of Admission - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.During the period of building suspension, dramatic and extensive changes in the world of the cinema have arisen. Wide Screen, CinemaScope, and improved sound systems have been introduced with all their attendant requirements in building, plant and, equipment. Not less important have been the pronounced and improved changes in the standards of public service, comfort and hygiene that the present day cinema offers its patrons.

Right - Hours of Opening and Prices of Admission - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Stage Shows

In addition further alterations to the plans and structure were rendered necessary by the decision of Associated British Cinemas to adapt the building to enable the presentation of "live" stage shows. Although these alterations entailed a considerable loss of seats, the Company have accepted such loss as justified in order to meet the very strong public demand for "live" entertainment, and patrons of the Regal can look forward with pleasure and interest to periods of theatre atmosphere as a contrast to their enjoyment of film presentations.

The new Regal now finished and presented to the citizens of Gloucester is a modern cinema worthy to uphold the traditions of Associated British Cinemas, and the film industry generally.

The Exterior

The Exterior of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The semi-classical design of the Regal frontage on to St. Aldate Street with an elevation of Bath stone, and a plinth of Portland stone, offers within its clean and simple lines, a building which will without doubt become a landmark well able to maintain the historical and architectural character of the City. The entrance, formed with a battery of armour plate glass doors, affords an open and interesting view of the interior from the street.

Right - The Exterior of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Above the entrance is built a contemporary marquee type canopy, with deep illuminated glass fascia carrying interchangeable lettering, the underside of the canopy being studded with recessed down-lights flooding the pavement and the entrance below with a welcoming illumination. At a higher level a neon illuminated name sign faces on to the square, and in addition an illuminated fin sign in a series of individual panels carrying neonized letters, enables the Regal name sign to be seen from the approaches to the Square.

The Interior

The Entrance Hall of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The cinema has been designed on simple contemporary lines, relying to a great extent upon the use of light, colour, and contrasting materials. The entrance hall, compact, intimate and planned to offer the maximum guidance and assistance to the patrons upon entry, is flooded with light from concealed fluorescent lighting over the main central portion of the ceiling, and from recessed downlights on the side walls and over balcony foyer.

Left - The Entrance Hall of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

On one side of the entrance hall is provided a sales kiosk which will amply cater for the requirements of patrons in confectionery, cigarettes, etc.

Immediately facing the entrance doors the dual pay boxes, of interesting design, separate the approach stairs to the stalls foyers and the balcony foyer landing. The approach to the stalls is through two foyers designed to prevent noise penetration, and to maintain the correct balance of air conditions within the Auditorium.

The open planning which combines the balcony foyer with the entrance hall contrives to maintain an intimate atmosphere yet provides a background and setting for the whole life and activity of this portion of the building.

From both the stalls and balcony foyers access is gained to the powder rooms and toilets, and these sections of the building have been designed and finished to provide a standard of comfort and hygiene adequate to this modern building and present day requirements.

The Auditorium of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.Upon entering the Auditorium the first impression is the magnificent setting of the proscenium opening, flanked by the curved and decorative fibrous plaster screens on either side. These fibrous plaster screens have been designed with a twofold purpose inasmuch as whilst providing decorative interest at this portion of the Auditorium much thought and experience has gone into the design of the shield features which control and direct the entry of fresh air into the Auditorium to ensure that the most efficient distribution of air is effected.

Right - The Auditorium of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

These decorative screens, and the simple but colourful proscenium curtains, are illuminated from batteries of spotlights set within the balcony front, and the general impression is one which will hold the patrons' interest.

The Circle Foyer of of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The remaining wall surfaces are restrained in their decorative treatment to leave attention focused around the proscenium. The main ceiling, however, has been designed in a series of sloping leaves, apparently suspended in mid-air, within which are carried the concealed fluorescent lighting units, giving the general illumination through the Auditorium.

Left - The Circle Foyer of of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Although fluorescent lighting is accepted as commonplace it has only recently become possible to use this form of lighting in a cinema auditorium where it must be subject to gradual increase and decrease of intensity. Its use, however, adds much to the decorative quality of the Auditorium and it is installed here with the confident knowledge that it will add to the comfort and interest of the patrons.

The opening of the stage curtains reveals a magnificent CinemaScope screen 40ft. in width, a size which will enable patrons to view the latest CinemaScope films to their greatest advantage. The stage itself when used for the presentation of "live" shows, provides a depth of 25ft. which will enable settings that give a most effective background to the theatre presentations.

The Opening Programme for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Above - The Opening Programme for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Is of primary importance for the health and comfort of patrons, and the new projection techniques and pursuit of perfect screen vision renders this a vital feature of the modern cinema. The most-up-to-date plant and equipment available has been installed in the Regal to ensure these requirements being met. The installation of automatic oil fired boilers provides direct heating throughout the building by "Vectair" heaters, together with the supply of filtered and warmed air to the Auditorium, ensuring that a comfortable warmth will be maintained even when external temperatures are at freezing point. Warm air in Winter and cool air in Summer is screen filtered and pumped into the Auditorium at a rate of over one and a half million cubic feet per hour by a modern Plenum plant, whilst the intake and extraction plants are so balanced as to create and maintain an increased air pressure within the Auditorium, preventing the entry of draughts from the exterior.

Regal Equipment, by G. E. FIELDING, Chief Engineer of Associated British Cinemas Limited

The Regal is a very different cinema from that which was originally conceived when building commenced before the war. Fantastic progress has been made since then in almost all technical fields, particularly that of the cinema industry.

Projection

An Advertisement for 'Westrex' - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.The projection equipment is of the very latest design available. Wide Screen, CinemaScope, VistaVision and Stereoscopic pictures may all be shown to audiences with a degree of participation formerly unobtainable with the more conventional type of screen. A great deal of careful research has been devoted to determining the correct screen characteristics in order to avoid strain or fatigue on patrons. The equipment also embodies lens improvements to give greater light, and better definition and focus, together with arc lamp and carbon advances which give a better light colour and so ensure the correct rendering of the tonal valises of colour films.

Right - An Advertisement for 'Westrex' - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Sound Equipment

In step with the advance in visual presentation, sound equipment has also progressed. Linked with the Regal's new Wide Screen, we have Westrex sound equipment which adequately takes advantage of all the progress which has been made in the art of high quality sound recording. Those patrons who are technically minded, and there must be many, have only to glance back a few years to know what strides have been made in the quality of long playing records and magnetic tapes to realise that comparable advances have been made in film recordings.

Lighting

The Auditorium and Proscenium of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.Patrons will quickly notice that great use has been made of fluorescent lighting to give adequate though soft and restful illumination in the auditorium. Although fluorescent lighting is nowadays quite commonplace, it has been impossible until recently to use it in cinema auditoria or other places in which a gradual dimming is desired from full brilliance to blackout.

Left - The Auditorium and Proscenium of the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

In this installation the dimming is carried out electronically and the equipment is completely automatic in operation. It can dim or increase intensity at any desired speed and the speed of operation has been preset to a value which will not cause patrons any ocular discomfort during the transition from black-out to full brilliance. This is one of the few large scale installations of fluorescent auditorium lighting in this country and its use as indirect lighting with all light sources hidden from view will add greatly to the comfort and relaxation of patrons.

Air Conditioning

Future Presentations at the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee. The modern and efficient air conditioning, heating and ventilating plant, in addition to safeguarding health and adding to comfort, has a further essential duty to perform. It is not generally realised that the normal amount of tobacco smoke generated by the average audience can prevent more than half the light which leaves the projectors from reaching the screen. Under such conditions, the picture loses its true colour values and all semblance of reality. The ventilating system at the Regal is designed not only to prevent the atmosphere from becoming smokeladen, but also as far as possible to draw it away from the projection light beam.

Right - Future Presentations at the Regal Theatre, Gloucester - From the Opening Souvenir Brochure for the Regal Theatre, Gloucester on the 19th of March 1956 - Courtesy Ron Knee.

Seating and Carpeting

The luxurious seating embodies all the latest improvements and has been designed to give ample knee room and ease of access. It is covered throughout in a specially manufactured worsted velvet in a warm red-rust colour and which, incidentally, is dustproof. Carpeting to the Foyers and Auditorium is of high grade Wilton manufacture, of a small overall design with a red background. The Proscenium curtains are of heavy oyster grey velour, and the screen curtains of lustrous satin in a mushroom colour.'

The above text in quotes and its accompanying images was first published in the Regal Theatre's Opening Souvenir Brochure on the 19th of March 1956, brochure courtesy Ron Knee.

The former Regal Theatre, Gloucester in January 2018 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

Above - The former Regal Theatre, Gloucester in January 2018 - Courtesy Philip Paine.

The Regal Theatre had originally opened on the 19th of March 1956 but seven years later, in March 1963, it had a change of name to ABC. Then in 1974 EMI took over the running of the building and this is when live shows ceased, as the Theatre was tripled at this time, with a single screen in the former circle, and two screens in the former stalls.

The Theatre was renamed Cannon in 1986 when the Cannon Group took over the building, and they ran it as a three screen Cinema until the 12th of December 1990 when it was closed and boarded up.

A few years later the Wetherspoon chain bought the former Theatre and converted it for pub use, opening under its original name 'The Regal' on the 3rd of April 1996, and so it remains at the time of writing in 2020.

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The Gloucester Hippodrome, Eastgate Street, Gloucester

Formerly - The City Cinema - Later - The Gaumont Cinema

A Sketch showing the Gloucester Hippodrome in 1935 - From the Gloucester Citizen, 22nd March 1935.

Above - A Sketch showing the Gloucester Hippodrome in 1935 - From the Gloucester Citizen, 22nd March 1935.

An early Programme Cover for the Gloucester Hippodrome whilst under the control of Poole's Theatres Ltd. - Courtesy Peter Charlton.The Gloucester Hippodrome was originally opened as the City Cinema on the 20th of June 1911, but in 1914 the Cinema was altered for Cine Variety by adding a stage and dressing rooms, it reopened as the Hippodrome on Monday the 1st of March 1915.

Right - An early Programme Cover for the Gloucester Hippodrome whilst under the control of Poole's Theatres Ltd. - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

The Gloucester Echo reported on the new Hippodrome in their 27th of February 1915 edition saying:- 'For very many years Gloucester has been in urgent need of an up-to-date place of amusement, and this long-felt want has been supplied by the Gloucester Hippodrome Co., who have demolished the City Cinema, in Eastgate-street and erected on the site and adjoining land one of the most palatial music-halls in the county. What is of special interest to Gloucester people is the fact that the company which is responsible tor the Magnificent building is composed of local gentlemen, the building was designed by a Gloucester architect, built by local builders, and furnished by a local firm. It can thus truly be said to be Gloucester's own place of amusement, and all that remains is for the public to show their appreciation of local enterprise by patronising this Mecca of entertainment, which will be opened on Monday afternoon next by the Mayor and Mayoress (Mr. and Mrs. James Bruton), the proceeds of the opening performance being devoted to the Prince of Wales' relief fund.

Our representative was afforded an opportunity on Thursday of inspecting the Hippodrome, which was then receiving the finishing touches. The building, which will accommodate about 1,000 incudes a main hall 80ft. long and 46 feet wide, and extends from Eastgate-street to New Inn-lane. There are two entrances, one for the grand and upper circles, and the other for the pit, and no less than half a dozen exits.

The stage is 30ft. deep. with a width of 40ft. and a space of 31ft. between the fly rails. Adjacent to the stage are five dressing-rooms for the artists, with every accommodation, and there are commodious cloak-roorns for ladies and gentlemen on the first floor near the entrance. On either side of the hall are two private boxes, nicely furnished, and comfortably upholstered tip-up seats are fixed in all parts of the house, the floor which is covered with carpet of a colour which harmonises with the rose-coloured draperies of the building and the general decorations, which are carried out in Wedgewood tint.

The Auditorium of the Gloucester Hippodrome - From an early Programme for the Theatre whilst under the control of Poole's Theatres Ltd. - Courtesy Peter Charlton.Every attention has been paid to the heating and ventilation of the building, machinery being provided at the New Inn-lane end for pumping in 11,000 feet of fresh air per minute, and a perfect heating apparatus installed which will ensure every corner of the building being comfortably warm in the coldest weather.

Left - The Auditorium of the Gloucester Hippodrome - From an early Programme for the Theatre whilst under the control of Poole's Theatres Ltd. - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

Every precaution has been taken for guarding against fire by the provision of pipes and hoses in various parts of the building, and a fire-proof curtain, which, when lowered, will entirely cut off the stage from the main hall. The whole of the place will be illuminated with electric light, emitted through electroliers of Georgian pattern.

The building was erected by Messrs. Eastcourt and sons from the design of Mr. W. G. Edward, architect, of Barton-street, and the furnishing was carried out by Messrs. Blinkhorn and Son, while Mr. W. Woodward was responsible far the electric lighting, and Messrs. T. and A. Kiddie, of Worcester-street supplied the handsome uniforms to be worn by the attendants.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Gloucester Echo, 27th of February 1915.

An Advertisement for the film 'Dead of Night' showing at the Gloucester Hippodrome in 1945 - From the Gloucester Citizen, 16th November 1945.By 1930 the Theatre had been equipped for sound with a Western Electric Sound Installation and in 1935 the Theatre was closed for more reconstruction, this time to the designs of C.C. Chadwick and William Watson, who created a new Portland Stone facade for the Theatre (shown above), and an increased seating capacity. The Gloucester Journal reported on the changes in their 23rd of March 1935 edition saying:- 'The patrons of the Gloucester Hippodrome will be interested to hear that it is the intention of the proprietors, Messrs. Poole's Theatres Limited, to take immediate steps to re-model this house, and bring it into line with the super cinema of the present day. To this end additional property has been acquired, plans prepared by a leading firm of architects, and passed by the authorities, and the work of demolition and rebuilding will be commenced very shortly.

Right - An Advertisement for the film 'Dead of Night' showing at the Gloucester Hippodrome in 1945 - From the Gloucester Citizen, 16th November 1945.

The scheme provides for the complete demolition of the existing frontage. This is replaced by a striking facade executed in stone, which will be brilliantly illuminated at night. Entrances drawn on modern lines will open into a spacious foyer and waiting lounge. From this, entrance will be obtained centrally to the stalls, with doors specially designed and placed to exclude all possibility of draught. From this foyer will also rise an entirely new staircase leading to a luxuriously equipped lounge, and giving access to the circle. The existing circle will be removed, and replaced by a much enlarged one, constructed on modern lines. The circle will be entered half way up, which is of the utmost advantage to patrons. Fully equipped ladies' and gentlemen's cloak rooms are planned on both ground and lounge floors. The stalls floor will be considerably enlarged, and additional accommodation provided here also. Entirely new and up-to-date lighting, decorating, heating, ventilation, and more spacious seating, is embodied in the scheme and, when completed, the Hippodrome will rank with the best super cinemas in the country.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Gloucester Journal, 23rd of March 1935.

In 1954 the Theatre was equipped for Cinemascope but a year later in October 1955 a fire which started in the roof of the building during a presentation of the film 'Sudden Fear' quickly gutted the auditorium, luckily there were no injuries among the audience or staff. After the fire the Theatre was soon rebuilt, now under the ownership of the Rank Organisation, reopening on the 18th of June 1956.

Rank renamed the Theatre the Gaumont Cinema in April 1959 but on the 22nd of April 1961 they closed the Theatre suddenly and it then stood empty and unused until it was finally demolished in September 1964. A branch of British Home Stores was then constructed on the site.

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Palmer's Picturedrome, Barton Street, Gloucester

Later - The Picturedrome / Ritz Cinema / Mecca Bingo Club / Olympus Theatre

A Google Streetview Image of the Picturedrome, Gloucester in 2008 - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google Streetview Image of the Picturedrome, Gloucester in 2018 - Click to Interact.

An Advertisement for the opening of Palmer's Picturedrome - From the Gloucester Citizen, Saturday the 13th of January 1923.Palmer's Picturedrome is the original name of the currently empty Olympus Theatre situated on the corner of Barton Street and Blenheim Road in Gloucester, and was first opened by Sir James Bruton M.P., on the 15th of January 1923 with a showing of the 1922 film 'Fascination'. The Theatre, which was originally built as a Cinema for the showing of films only, was designed by the architect W. G. Edward, and was built for E. C. J. Palmer of the Gloucester Cinema Company. The Theatre had seating for 700 people on two levels when it first opened in 1923, stalls and one circle.

Right - An Advertisement for the opening of Palmer's Picturedrome - From the Gloucester Citizen, Saturday the 13th of January 1923.

The Gloucester Chronicle reported on the opening of the Picturedrome in their 20th of January 1923 edition saying:- 'The erection of the Picturedrome on a site adjoining Blenheim Road, has certainly brightened up a portion of the main street which has hitherto been mediocre in character. The architect, Mr. W. G. Edward, deserves congratulations on the attractive picture house he has designed.

From the front of the building a glass porch extends to the edge of the pavement, and the lighting of this, and the illuminated signs provide a gay and attractive means of ingress. The pay box is in the entrance hall, and leading from this is a foyer giving access to the balcony by two stairways, and to the body of the hall by swing doors. In the foyer cigarettes and chocolates are obtainable at a kiosk, and the general theme of decoration, carried out in "French stucco" and decorative plaster work, is charming.

Particular attention has been devoted to the convenience of patrons, especially in regard to the slope of the floor. Nothing is more annoying to enter a cinema where one has to bob almost continuously to see the screen, but patrons of this new cinema will not have this discomfort.

Restful colours are the keynote of the decorations, shades of grey and cream predominating, whilst artistic plaster work gives an excellent finish to the walls and front of the balcony. The seats are very comfortable, and are of the tip-up type, whilst plenty of space has been allowed between rows. The gangways are of good width, and the exits have been conveniently arranged in case of any untoward incidents. There is ample lavatory accommodation, whilst the hall is kept agreeably heated by a low pressure hot water system. Every attention has been given to the problem of ventilation, and the apparatus is capable of changing the air in the hall seven times an hour. The house will hold 700, and the operating box is fitted with the latest Gaumont projecting apparatus.

With the exception of some minor contracts, the work has been executed by the Gloucester Branch of the National Building Guild of which Mr. S. T. Davies is Area Director. Some delay was caused by the financial troubles of the Guild; but satisfactory arrangements were made for them to complete the work. It is interesting to note that the estimated cost of the Picturedrome in 1920 was £9,000. When the contract was signed in March last it had fallen to £7,176, but the actual cost will work out at between £5,000 and £6,000. The electrical work has been carried out by Messrs. Mitchell and Co., Northgate Street, the heating by Messrs. Woodward and Co., Barton Street, and the decorative plaster work by Messrs. Leggett and Co., of London.'

The above text in quotes (abridged) was first published in the Gloucester Chronicle, 20th of January 1923.

A Google StreetView Image of the New Olympus Theatre, Gloucester in 2008 - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the New Olympus Theatre, Gloucester in 2008 - Click to Interact.

Taken over by ABC in 1943 the facade was modernised and a new canopy was added, at the same time the Cinema was equipped for Cinemascope. The Theatre was renamed the Ritz Cinema in May 1955. ABC closed the Cinema in April 1961 but were persuaded by the local council to reopen it, which they did in June the same year, but although it started off doing good business again by the following year ABC had closed it again, and it then went over to Bingo, later run by Mecca in 1966, who closed it in 1984.

A recent image of the auditorium of the Olympus Theatre / Picturedrome, Gloucester.The former Cinema was then bought by the Gloucester Operatic & Dramatic Society to be converted into a Theatre for their activities, they opened it as the Olympus Theatre with their production of 'Fidler on the Roof' on the 17th of March 1986.

Right - A recent image of the auditorium of the Olympus Theatre / Picturedrome, Gloucester.

Conversion to live theatrical use meant that a stage had to be built at the front of the original stalls, and a lighting box was constructed at the back of the circle next to the original projection box. All this culminated in a reduced capacity of 420 seats, but this was not small for an amateur theatrical company. To increase funds, in January 2001, the Theatre was re-equipped to show films when live shows were not being performed, and this helped fund the building for a while, but it was eventually closed by the Gloucester Operatic & Dramatic Society due to high maintenance costs, and was sold by them in 2007.

A recent image of the auditorium of the Olympus Theatre / Picturedrome, Gloucester.The new owners reopened it as the Gloucester Picturedrome in 2008 after funding by the City Council's Interim Historic Areas Grant Scheme, but since then it has suffered various misfortunes including being used as a cafe and bar, and has seen a decline in its status and condition.

Left - A recent image of the auditorium of the Olympus Theatre / Picturedrome, Gloucester.

The last time the Theatre was used for live entertainment was in 2014 when it hosted a live theatre festival, with performances from the Royal Ballet School and the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Various uses since however, have seen the removal of the stalls rake and the Theatre's heating equipment and the stalls seats, which were stashed in the dressing rooms, also suffered degradation to the point where they were no longer usable.

However, a path to reopening the building as a live Theatre again was given a lift when it was given 450 seats from the Royal Circle of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane when it begun its own refurbishment in 2019/20, and was one of only three applications to receive them. The building is still structurally sound but requires some restoration and although plans were being drawn up by Gloucester Arts Council to try and achieve this the Coronavirus Pandemic has delayed the proposed project for the time being and the building is falling into further disrepair.

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