Stockport - Becky Bennett

Go to content

Main menu:

Theatres
The Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre cinema in Stockport, England opened in the year of 1932 and is now a Grade Two listed building. After being a bingo hall for many years, it has now been restored as a cinema and theatre, showing classic films and staging live shows. The building is in the Art Deco style, it was constructed in 1932 to a design by William Thornley. It had an original seating capacity of 1878 and in its restored state has 614 seats in the stalls, 318 in the front circle and 254 in the rear circle (the balcony). The first plans for a cinema on this site was made by William Thornley in 1929. It was a conservative scheme that incorporated a motor garage, a billiard hall, a restaurant with a 1600-seat cinema. Thornley, who had trained with Bradshaw Gass & Hope was experienced in designing silent movie cinemas. The owners of the site rejected the scheme. They had just opened the 1850 seat Regal Cinema, Altrincham which was designed by Drury and Gomersall and described as the ‘Cathedral of the Movies’. Thornley was commissioned to modify the Altrincham plans to fit on the more restricted site.


Image Courtesy Of The Plaza Theatre


The first plans for a cinema on this particular site was made by William Thornley in 1929. It was a conservative scheme that incorporated a motor garage, a billiard hall, a restaurant with a 1600 seat cinema. Thornley, who had trained with Bradshaw Gass & Hope was experienced in designing silent movie cinemas. The owners of the site rejected the scheme. They had just opened the 1850 seat Regal Cinema, Altrincham which was designed by Drury and Gomersall and described as the ‘Cathedral of the Movies’.  Thornley was commissioned to modify the Altrincham plans to fit on the more restricted Stockport site.

Ten Thousand tonnes of sandstone was excavated to create The Plaza and the adjoining Plaza steps by outside labourers. The building was partially underground. The cinema was an Art Deco gem which was welcomed by the local cinema goers but opposed by the local business community, smarting from the use of outsiders when the town was still suffering from the Great Depression. Technically the cinema had all the latest equipment the projectors that could project silent and sound stock, and a Compton organ to be played during the silent news reels. It was a cine-variety venue.

The Plaza attracted competition and by 1939 there were two further super cinemas in the town centre and two in the suburbs. After the war, in the 1950s The Plaza was refurbished and diversified into CinemaScope and 3-D screenings. The conversion to a Bingo Hall was refused by Stockport Borough Council planning committee but this ruling was overturned by National government and Rank Leisure proceeded with their plan.


Image Courtesy Of The Plaza Theatre
Image Courtesy Of The Plaza Theatre


To possess an original Compton Organ is rare, but the Plaza organ is notable in its own right. It was the first Compton Theatre Organ to be built with sunburst decorative glass panels. These can be illuminated in a range of colours. The Compton organ is a three manual instrument with a unique 150 stop tab layout which was designed for the Plaza and her sister cinema by Norman Cocker the resident organist from Manchester Cathedral and Arthur Ward one of the original Directors of the Stockport Plaza.

It has in addition 42 toe and thumb pistons and 11 ranks of pipes situated in 2 chambers, one over the other to the right of the stage. These are concealed behind the decorative grill in the wall. There is no electric amplification, as the sound is produced acoustically straight from the organ pipes. The console is on a lift so that it can rises out of the floor, adding to the theatrical effect.As there is no amplification the organist controls the volume using swell pedals that operate shutters in the grill. It was played before shows, and during silent movies, variety acts and musical interludes between films.

The Plaza was sold to the Stockport Plaza Trust, first restorations started, and it re-opened for live shows and vintage film presentations. The first cinema show in December 2000 featured a performance of 42nd St which had been the first film shown at the Plaza in 1932. The Compton organ was found to be in working order, it was powered up and a performance of 1930s singalong music was given by Nigel Ogden. The Plaza was closed during 2009, and ₤1.9m restoration, funded by a National Lottery grant took place. Volunteers embarked on the restoration of The Plaza to its original 1932 configuration. Most of the facade has now been unveiled and sports a new name sign as well as new side panels, all constructed with neon lighting.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE ALADDIN POSTER TO VISIT THE STOCKPORT PLAZA WEBSITE





{ COUNTDOWN TO THE SPECTACULAR FINAL PERFORMANCE OF ALADDIN }








What's On At
The Plaza




Back To Bacharach
Saturday 13th January


Barbara Nice: Raffle
Saturday 20th January


The Rod Stewart Story
Thursday 25th January


A Vision Of Elvis On Tour
Saturday 27th January


Jimmy Cricket Comedy Show
Sunday 28th January


Dance To The Music
Thursday 1st February


Jason Manford
Friday 2nd February


The Roy Orbison Story
Saturday 3rd February


Legends Of American Country
Thursday 8th February


Milkshake Live
Tuesday 13th February


Chinese New Year Extravaganza  
Saturday 17th February


Wrestling
Sunday 18th February


The Lionel Richie Songbook   
Thursday 22nd February


   80's Smash Hits   
Saturday 24th February


Jimmy Osmond Moon River And Me
Monday 26th February


 Russell Brand Rebirth  
Wednesday 28th February


Andy Powell Big Band Extravaganza
Thursday 1st March


Beautiful Noise
Saturday 3rd March


Mercury: The Ultimate Queen Tribute
Thursday 8th March


Signed Sealed Delivered  
Friday 9th March


Annie Get Your Gun  
Tuesday 13th To Saturday 17th March


Showaddywaddy In Concert  
Saturday 24th March


The Grumbleweeds Laughter Show
Sunday 25th March

The Searchers
Friday 6th April


That'll Be The Day
Thursday 12th April


The King Of Pop
Thursday 19th April


Northern Soul Live Edwin Starr Band
Saturday 21st April


Jason Donovan Midlife Crisis
Wednesday 25th April


You Win Again  Celebrating The Bee Gees
Thursday 26th April


Milton Jones Is Out There
Saturday 28th April


Whitney Queen Of The Night
Sunday 6th May


The Carpenters Story
Friday 18th May


Dusty And The Shades Of The 60s  
Sunday 17th June


Count Arthur Strong
Saturday 23rd June








Theatre Tours
Behind The Scenes Plaza Theatre Experience




Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 29th January


Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 19th February


Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 26th March
Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 30th April


Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 21st May


Behind The Scenes Tour
Monday 25th June


Book Tickets
Site Map
Social Media
Venues
Double The Diva
Back to content | Back to main menu