RECENTLY we published a quick, and very incomplete, survey of cinemas in the Durham coalfield. We asked for people to send in their memories and thoughts about any cinemas we might have missed.

Here is a selection of the replies – and as we haven’t reached the end credits yet, we'd love to hear if you have anything further to add. Please email

LOTS of people got in touch to point out that we were one cinema short of a full screening in our survey of Durham's city cinemas. The one that didn't get a mention was the Palladium in Claypath.

“I remember going to the Saturday morning films at the Palladium and watching Dick Tracey and lots of Westerns – this would be around 1952,” said Peter McCutcheon in High Pittington.

The Palladium opened in 1929 and made history as the first cinema in the city to be allowed to put on Sunday evening performances, although both the chief constable and the bishop had to approve the programme first.

It was damaged by fire in 1934, but stayed devoted to films until 1976. It was converted in 1982 to bingo, and then to religion in 2004 when it became a church. It finally succumbed to the bulldozers in 2016 when more student accommodation was built on its site.

So, for the record, the four city cinemas were: the Palace in Walkergate (1909-1950s?), the Globe in North Road (1913-1957), the Robins in North Road (1934-2003, also known as the Regal, the Essoldo, the Classic and the Cannon), and the Palladium (1929-1976).

We said that it was the Palace that was renowned for having little bitey things living in the plush upholstery, but Peter said: “I thought the fleas were at the Globe because we did our courting at the Palace but cannot remember being bitten!”

JC MADGIN in Belmont remembers seeing Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band at the Robins in North Road when it was called the Essoldo, in the late 1950s. Mr Madgin also frequented the Globe, which was further up North Road towards the railway line.

The Globe opened on May 5, 1913, and was said to be Durham’s first purpose-built cinema, although some sources say that it was converted from a former timber house. It was entered by a long covered passage that led from a glass canopy on North Road. By the 1950s, it had found a niche for itself screening X-rated films. It closed on June 29, 1957 by showing Il Peccato di Anna – or, Anna’s Sins, which was an updated version of Shakespeare’s Othello.

“The Globe once screened a very early version of Les Miserables in French with sub-titles,” said Mr Madgin. “My French teacher was amused, on leaving, by a group of girls. One said to a friend, 'What did yer think of it then?' The reply was, 'Aye, it was canny, but Ah still don't know which one was Les'.”

The widening of the A690 has opened it up to public view, and it has recently had a succession of uses, usually involving food.

KATH STANDRING takes us to the Empire in Langley Moor which opened on the High Street on September 27, 1915, and like so many of those early cinemas, it was both a theatre and a cinema. It closed in 1960 and, again like so many cinemas, was converted into a bingo hall. It was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for a supermarket.

TO the south of Langley Moor is Meadowfield, where both Kath and another correspondent, Peter White, remember something very unusual: the first co-operative cinema, which opened in 1915.

“Growing up in Meadowfield in the 1940s and 1950s, our main source of entertainment was the cinema which was part of Meadowfield Co-op,” says Peter. “It was known as “The Hall” although its real name was “the Kinema” and before that I believe it was “the Central Palace”.

“There were often two houses, and coming out of first house there was always a queue for those waiting for second house.

“It closed in around 1961 and the building is now a block of flats.

“The other option was the Empire at Langley Moor – a bit further to walk but if there was nothing on at the Hall, it was a good fallback.

“As a teenager in the 1960s, our Saturday nights were spent in Durham, either at the Essoldo or the Palladium in Gilesgate. These were the cinemas where you took your girlfriend, in fact I met the girl who was to become my wife there, but the Palace, on the other hand, was where you went with the lads. It could get a bit rowdy!”

Meadowfield Co-op deserves a repeated mention for two reasons. In terms of cinemas, it really was a pioneering venture – were there any other co-op cinemas in the North-East.

And, secondly, because it has a unique place in Parliamentary history. In 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, the Spennymoor MP Jim Murray – a miners’ union official who’d been brought up at Browney Colliery and who ran a shop in North Meadowfield – complained in a speech in the Commons about "the shortage of dum-tits at Meadowfield Co-op".

FROM Langley Moor and Meadowfield it is a quick jump north-west to Langley Park, which had both the Hippodrome and the King’s cinemas.

The Hippodrome started life in 1911 as a variety theatre. It showed films full time from 1920 until, in 1960, it was converted into a bingo hall. It was demolished in December 2005 to make way for a residential development.

The Kings Cinema in Front Street opened in June 1937 and was the small town’s most prominent building. For a while it was known as the Zymo Cinema, and it showed films until it was struck by a fire in 1953.

It reopened in 1955 as a dance hall, with a coffee bar in the balcony and a sprung dance floor.

When the dance hall days faded, it became a bingo hall, and then in the mid-1980s it became the home of Bob Smith’s coach company. However, it was demolished in 2006, and so Langley Park lost both of its cinemas in a short space of time.

GILESGATE MOOR, to the east of Durham, had two cinemas. The Majestic (1938-1961), which we mentioned, but Tom Elder in Sacriston drew our attention to the Rex, which opened in 1928 when it was called the Crescent. It was re-named the Rex in 1941, closed in the late 1960s and became a tool hire depot. However, in recent years it has been wondrously reborn as a laundrette which includes a performance space – it is such a pleasure to say that rather than talk again about demolition.

“AS a youngster growing up in Easington,” says John Todd in the North Yorkshire village of Barton, “I would, with pals, go to the pictures in Easington Colliery. Our cinemas were the Hippodrome, long since demolished, and The Rialto, which is presently a carpet warehouse. I believe there had also been an Empire.”

He’s whisked us off to the east coast of the coalfield, and he is right in every respect. The Rialto had 1,250 seats, and had sister cinemas in Horden and Blackhall Colliery. It closed in the mid 1970s, but even though it has been quite crudely converted, you can still see the art deco glamour of the cinema’s entrance tower on Seaside Road, and along its Oswald Terrace side, you can still see its name above the emergency exits.

ON a very similar theme, last week we were in Ferryhill, and mentioned that it had two cinemas: the Gaiety in Church Lane (1912-1967, demolished in 1994), and the Pavilion in Main Street (1927-1967, but its facade still survives as a cafe and amusements). Geoff Gregg in Tursdale called to remind us about the third: the Majestic in Dean Bank.

The Majestic was in the Miners' Welfare Hall which opened in 1906 as part of the Dean Bank and Ferryhill Village Literary and Social Institute – you can still see the institute's amazingly long name carved in the stonework. The complex was built with subscriptions from miners working in the Dean and Chapter Colliery, which had opened in 1904. The hall housed the miners' library and welfare offices, and, from the late 1930s, the Majestic cinema. It advertised itself as "the people's popular picture resort" although it also went by the nickname of "the Ranch" as it liked to show cowboy and westerns.

The cinema closed when the colliery shut in 1966, and became so dilapidated that it was pulled down in 1999, although the rest of the institute benefitted from a £600,000 restoration and now it acts as a community centre.