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Berriew Street, Welshpool, Powys, Wales
01938 555715

The Pola Cinema

Welshpool

The History of
The Pola Cinema 
& Welshpool Cinema History

 
The Picturedrome 

Mr J.C. Codmore
Picturedrome 1912 - 1924

 

The Picturedrome was established in December 1912. It was located in a converted Wesleyan Chapel which from 1866 had seen service as a British School which closed in 1894, and had also seen service in a number of guises since then.

The man who opened it as a cinema venue was Mr J.C. Codmore, the Rhyl cinema entrepreneur, who named all of his theatres Picturedromes. He engaged a Mr Stein to accompany the films on piano.


Codman was ever the smart publicist, and would send his men out on the streets of Welshpool during the day to film the inhabitants going about their daily business and then offer a prize of 2/6d (Not an inconsiderable sum in those days) to any member of the audience who recognised themselves in the film.


By 1915 however, Codman had gone bankrupt and the cinema lay empty until in 1918 Messrs Donaldson and McDougall re-opened it with Mr T. Jones as resident manager and a diet of one show per night with two changes of programme per week on Mondays and Thursdays. (There were no shows on Sundays at this time unless it was a special religious show), at prices from 5d to 1/3d.


The venue lasted until 1924, when the Clive Picture House was opened under the same owners. After a period in other uses the Picturedrome was demolished


 
Clive Picture House

Donaldson & MacDougall
1924 - 1936

Paramount Picture Cuircuit 
1939 - 1945

The Clive Picture House was established in the former Red Lion Flannel Factory in Church Street, which was lying unused after a long time in industrial use. It is not known when it was built, but it was certainly up for sale in 1832, so must have proceeded that time by some considerable period.

It was owned by Messrs Donaldson and MacDougall who had owned the town’s Picturedrome. They gutted the interior and added a new brick built foyer at the front and provided access both front and back by road from Church Street and by alleyway from Severn Street.

The cinema was named in honour of Lord Clive of India, who had historic roots in the town. The venue was a success and continued the Picturedrome policy of one show per night with programmes changed twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, again there where no shows on Sundays apart from the occasional religious show.

In around 1936 Guy Baker came onto the scene with his embrionic Paramount Picture Theatres group and purchased the Clive Picture House. When he opened the Pola Cinema in 1938, the Clive Picture House was reduced to very much secondary status, finally closing in 1945, although retained by Baker as offices and for film storage.

After Guy Bakers death in 1983 the offices were closed and the Clive Picture House was converted into apartments with the foyer area taken over by a car components shop(Mark’s Auto Accessories), in which guise it remains with a plaque affixed to the former foyer wall commemorating its past.

 
The Pola Cinema

Paramount Picture Circuit
1938 - 1983

Cinema Group 
1984 - 1987

Thacker Era - Pola Cinemas
1992 - 2013
 

The flagship cinema of the Paramount Picture Theatres (North Wales) Circuit, The circuit Head Office was housed in the former Clive Picture House just down the road.


The Pola Cinema was opened on 18th April 1938 with George Arlis in his last film role “Dr. Syn”. The total seating capacity was 780 seats, with 500 is the stalls and 280 in the stadium style "balcony" to the rear. There was a stage and dressing rooms.


The theatre (in common with the rest of the circuit) survived on split weeks of second run programmes for much of the time. The Pola Cinema staged an annual professional pantomime and there were variety shows and wrestling matches. Bingo ran one night a week on Fridays from the mid-1960’s.


When circuit boss Guy Baker died in 1983 all of the theatres closed. The Pola Cinema was re-opened as a cinema/nightclub about 18 months later. The reduced capacity cinema used seating in the balcony area and was run by former circuit engineer Charlie Thacker.


After a brief closure, the Pola Cinema reopened in 1992 and ushered in a new era for the building. Reopening in April 1992, with one screen and a reduced capacity, the cinema showed a Matinee of “Walt Disney’s Snow White” followed by an evening presentation of “Father of the Bride”, several years later the cinema opened its now infamous second screen. Charlie Thacker ran the Cinema with son Richard Thacker until his death in 2004. Richard Thacker then took over the management of the cinema and still runs it to the present day, he is now joined by his son, Simon Thacker. 


Working together the Father / Son team where on the brink of ushering a whole new era for the cinema, Digital Projection and State of the art technology's where being readied for introduction. In April 2012 an Adverting and Social Media team was established to create an online presence in the new world of social media, to increase the presence of the Pola.


In June 2013, the difficult decision was made to close the Cinema, due to the spiralling costs of Digital projection. The Pola Cinema closed its doors for the final time Thursday 13 June 2013, the last films to show at the Cinema, where 'The Big Wedding' and 'Fast & Furious 7'.

Source Materials 

Information Compiled from following links:

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-kingdom/wales/welshpool