Cardiff was home to a wealth of cinemas over the years, some were wonderful picture palaces of considerable style while others were very much the flea pit venue, they entertained Capitols population throughout the golden era of cinemagoing and have not been lost. 

We welcome contributions from all viewers who recall memories of the cinemas that once populated the city and suburbs of Cardiff, together with photographs, information and corrections. Please contact the webmaster using the email link provided on the main menu index page.  
Cardiff is the Capitol city of the Principality of Wales, located to the far South of the region alongside the river Taff, Cardiff became an important dock during the industrial era of Wales.

Although a major city, Cardiff established in 1905, Cardiff was not officially the Capitol of Wales until 1955. Cardiff was an important and vibrant place long before it was officially recognised as a city and quickly became the regions primary business, commercial, financial and maritime centre, benefitting from considerable investment and funding.

The development of modern Cardiff can be associated to its relationship with the Commonwealth Empire Games, which the city proudly hosted in 1958. 

Cardiff boasts an impressive shopping centre that has been developed considerably over the years, with original Victorian arcades alongside impressive modern shopping Malls. Cardiff is also home to the second largest John Lewis department store, the largest is of course in London’s Oxford Street.

With a flourishing shopping area, a wealth of theatres and entertainment facilities alongside the impressive Millennium stadium the city is diverse, historic and modern. With Castles, civic buildings, alongside impressive scenery just outside the city. Cardiff is also home to the highly popular BBC TV series Doctor Who.

Cardiff has a long history of cinema entertainment long before it was officially recognised as a city and the Capitol of the Principality. Many of those cinemas are featured here.
Cardiff attracts visitors from Wales, the UK and overseas. 
By 1919 Cardiff boasted 14 halls screening films in the city. Many more cinemas came and went in the following years. Many of the cinemas were grand buildings, suitable for the Principalities Capitol City.
Queen Street.
Originally constructed during the early 1900s as the Andrews Hall, by local businessman, Solomon Andrews, Solomon Andrews had a number of early theatre and cinema interests throughout Wales, although the Andrews Hall was initially intended as a live performance theatre, the hall was impressive in size but mostly of a wooden structure, seating 1,085. Constructed using wasteland behind Queen Street, which was fast becoming a busy commercial and retail hub for the city. Even so, Andrew’s was able to acquire a small and narrow shop unit on Queen Street, this enabled his hall to be more visible to the many crowds on Queen Street. Andrews utilised the shop unit as entrance and foyer to his large theatre hall that stood behind the shop, at first patrons would enter the theatre by walking through the shop unit outside and then into the hall behind.

Business flourished until disaster struck shortly after opening. Fire savaged the original wooden structured hall. What remained following the fire was demolished as it was unsafe and unsuitable for use. The Andrews family built a new hall, this time using bricks.

The new Hall opened in March 1911 and was known as the Olympic Picture Theatre, the Queen Street shop unit was now part of the building with a corridor directly connecting to the Olympic Picture Theatre. Now with seating for 2,000 in the stalls and balcony the auditorium was impressive in size although largely plain in decoration but highly functional.

With the arrival of talking pictures in the 1930s the Olympic Picture Theatre was equipped with a sound system that year to benefit from the interest in this latest craze, at the same time the venue took the name of the Olympic Cinema. The Andrews Family continued to operate the venue although other business interests had erased their interest in cinema even though it was now turning a handsome profit.

Approached by the ABC circuit, the Andrews family took the opportunity to lease the Olympic Cinema to the chain in 1935. ABC modernised the cinema and installed Cinemascope into the huge auditorium during the mid fifties and 70MM in the early sixties, using DP70/35 projectors. The projection box was ideally located in a cut away on the balcony. The venue had became a premium luxury cinema in Cardiff and a busy one at that, with its ideal location on the principle shopping street of the city. The cinema was now known as the ABC Olympia, competing with the equally impressive Odeon Cinema just a few doors along the same street.

The cinema successfully operated as a single screen for many years, as the seventies arrived and the introduction of multi screen cinemas with smaller auditoriums, the ABC Olympia had to address the new fad. The film JAWS ran at the cinema for three months. At the end of its run in 1976 the ABC Olympia closed for development to a new three screen cinema centre. This decision was made due to the tripling of ABCs competitor, Odeon, just along the road.

The new three screen cinema opened later in 1976 and was now known as the ABC Queen Street 1,2,3. Screen 1 was the largest auditorium with 617 seats in the former balcony area. Screen 2 with 318 seats and screen 3 with 150 seats were constructed in the former stalls.

The ABC continued to operate as a three screen cinema until closure in 1999 due to competition from new multi screen cinemas in the city. The large auditorium building behind the Queen Street facade was demolished while the original shop unit has been returned to retail use, housing a high street retail outlet.

Although long remembered as a cinema the former ABC had also been used as a ice skating hall very early in its life. The Andrews family had multiple business interests stretching from entertainment venues through to department stores, whole retail blocks of shops, street cars/ trams and so on.

With a large family, typical of that era all of the Andrews sons were brought in to operate sectors of the growing business empire.

The shop unit built on Queen Street and eventually acquired as the entrance to the Andrews Hall/Olympic Cinema was built by the Andrews family together with the Andrews shopping arcade that formed part of this early retail block for the city of Cardiff. 

Nowadays there are no cinemas operating on Cardiff’s Queen Street, there is little evidence that the street was once a flourishing entertainment attraction for a good number of years. Following closure in the nineties, the ABC circuit has not had a presence in the Capitol city of Wales.
Queen Street.
For many in Cardiff, the Capitol Theatre was the place to see a film, even with formidable picture palaces in the city such as the ABC and Odeon, the Capitol Theatre was a majestic giant.

Originally built in 1919 by the Tilney Kinema Company Limited, a local family who already owned and operated a number of the early picture houses throughout Wales. The Capitol was purpose built for both film exhibition and live performances as a major venue of entertainment in the city, this was the vision of the Tilney family. Construction of the Capitol took three years.

Opening with the British comedy film nothing else matters, on December the 24th 1921, with a seating capacity of just over 3,000 in the stalls, circle and third tier balcony. At the time it was the biggest purpose built cinema in Europe. In addition to the mighty auditorium the venue included a sizeable ballroom, no less than three restaurants, a bar, banqueting hall and games hall, truly an early entertainment centre for the fun loving Victorians of Cardiff.

The Tilney family continued to operate the Capitol for many years following the initial opening. By 1931 the venue was leased to Paramount Cinemas who used the venue as its flagship premier cinema in Wales. The Rank Organisation leased the Capitol from the Tilney family in 1941, eventually Rank purchased the Capitol from the Tilney family in 1964.

During the war years the cinema created a bomb shelter in the basement, holding 1,000 people. The shelter was protected by four reinforced concrete floors above, during the bomb raid an orchestra would provide entertainment in the shelter.

Rank utilised the cinema and theatre during the 60s and early 70s with big blockbuster and epic films of the era, such as The Sound Of Music showing at the Capitol for a few months, at the same time Rank also ran their other cinema along the same street, the Odeon.

With a sizeable stage, one of the largest in the UK at the time, Rank took advantage of the facility and booked in popular opera, ballet and pop events of the era with memorable live concerts at the Capitol by Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Queen, the Beatles, Danny Kaye, Bob Dylan, Bay City Rollers, Bill Hayley and the Comets, Elton John, Status Quo, Rod Stewart and many other headline acts filling the 3,000 plus seats of the auditorium.

With the seventies drawing to a close and a decline in cinema attendances that would fill the enormous auditorium and with just the occasional live show that would attract sufficient ticket sales, due to the move of pop concerts from theatres to bigger stadiums, the Rank Organisation struggled to make the Capitol financially viable. Towards the end the cinema played double bills of questionable adult entertainment. Rank closed the venue on the 21st January 1978 with a double X rated bill of Yellow Emmanuel and The Street Killers.

By now the fate of the affectionately known The Cap, was doom, with the decision made to demolish the once popular venue. There was a great deal of opposition to this decision from locals, cinemagoers and concert lovers, even the local Mayor of Cardiff campaigned against this decision, all pleads were unsuccessful

The Capitol was demolished in 1979 for development of a new shopping mall that would bear the name The Capitol. The new shopping mall would incorporate a smaller five screen Odeon cinema in the basement.
The new Five Screen cinema was short lived opening on the 22nd of August 1991 and closed on the 21st August 2001.

With a total capacity of 1,266 seats the five screens were equipped with the latest technology and included Dolby Digital stereo in each auditorium. The screens seated 435, 261, 223, 186 and 161. The cinemas remain closed and unused. 
Queen Street.
Originally opening as the New Imperial Cinema in 1911, although located in the main hub of the city centre and screening the popular silent films of the day, the New Imperial Cinema suffered from a catalogue of varied difficulties, although identified as the home of silent film in the Principalities biggest town, which had yet to become a capitol city, the venue struggled and temporarily closed at some time in the late 1920s. With seating for over 1,100 patrons on one floor the venue was a sizeable cinema.

For a while, local exhibitor Max Corne acquired the venue in 1934 with a view of improving the cinema in terms of appearance and size to allow it to become a flagship venue for his growing Cornell Cinema chain. While some improvements were made under ownership by Max Corne it was clear that the venue needed a complete overhaul in order to make it a sizeable cinema that would become the place to see films in the city. At this time the circuit was busy expanding and upgrading with cinemas in Wales and parts of England with additional cinemas overseas, all of which it is thought, forced Max Corne to concentrate his efforts on the business elsewhere, which in turn created some cash flow difficulties.
St Marys Street.
North Road.
Opening on the 12th March 1928 with the movie CAMILLE, the Plaza became a landmark cinema when travelling to the city centre from the valleys. Like most cinemas during the early days, The Plaza featured a large in-house orchestra. Orchestras supporting silent films were popular but vanished from the majority of venues by 1945.

This imposing cinema was at first operated as an independent cinema before being acquired by the Cardiff Cinema Circuit and then the Jackson Withers Circuit. The auditorium featured stalls and balcony seating 1500.

In 1976 the Rank Organisation purchased the Jackson Withers Circuit, in doing so ownership of the Plaza was transferred to Rank. Rank closed the cinema on the 17th October 1981 while screening a double bill of ALIEN and THE FOG.

With the introduction of multi screen cinemas in Cardiff the once mighty Plaza was surplus to requirements, following closure the cinema remained standing but unused before being demolished. A sheltered housing development has been built on the site of the former cinema.
ST Mary Street/Wood Street.
The small cinema was built on the corner of the street in the Cardiff suburb, with an attractive auditorium and foyer the cinema seated 542 patrons on one level. The auditorium featured a domed roof which could be opened for ventilation, a very practical method of clearing the smoky hall. 

Willmott and Smith were the architects of this little gem of a palace, built originally for a local independent exhibitor, The Globe was acquired in the thirties by the Willis Circuit, a small family business exhibitor from the South Easter industrial valleys who operated a mini chain of cinemas in the valleys and three in the Cardiff suburbs.

The Globe opened on the 27th August 1914. The cinema was adapted for Cinemascope, which was a clumsy, amateur conversion. For most of the post war years the Globe screened mostly subtitled European films.

By the early sixties the Globe switched to bingo, this wasn’t successful and after a short time as a bingo venue the Globe returned to use as a cinema screening double bills of popular films.
The Globe closed on the 25th May 1981, by this time it had received a Grade II listing,  which was removed on appeal in late 1986 with the Globe being demolished for redevelopment in 1987. 

Shops were built on the site of the former Globe cinema, a small cinema was included above the shops, a small studio cinema, the Monroe, operated by Brian Bull for a number of years before once again closing. For a short while the Monroe cinema was operated by Chapter Arts centre as a student cinema and then a Bollywood cinema, which has now also closed.

Albany Road.
Pantbach Road.
Agate Street.
Park Place.
We are searching for programmes related to this venue alongside any Cinerama publicity adverts, press features or official Cinerama programmes  of the Park Hall. Please email the webmaster.
We are searching for photographs and material related to this venue. Additionally we would welcome press adverts and features.  Please email the webmaster.
Cowbridge Road.
With new housing being built in the Cowbridge Rd area of this Cardiff suburb, Ely, the Cardiff Splott circuit wanted to build a new cinema. Originally the cinema was to be named the Apollo and a plot of land was identified. For reasons unknown, the new cinema was built on another plot of land that had been acquired by the Splott circuit. Construction started for the new cinema in 1939, a red bricked facade with a primary corner entrance was chosen from the designs of local architect J.D. Wride, featuring a tower on the exterior, in some ways similar to the new Odeon builds of the era. 

Modifications were made to the original designs to save on costs, including the use of red brick rather than the materials originally intended by the architect. Once completed the cinema was then named Avenue, rather than the Apollo, as originally planned.

The cinema opened on the 12th February 1940 with Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, which played Monday through to Wednesday, a change of programme covered Thursday through to Sunday. Although it wasn’t know at the time this would be the last of the cinemas built in Cardiff during the cinema boom years, no further cinemas were built until the mid seventies.

Internally the auditorium was decorated in peach pink, seating a total of 1,150 in stalls and a balcony.
By the fifties the Avenue formed part of the growing Jackson Withers Circuit. The auditorium was modified in 1955 for the installation of Cinemascope while the customary red and yellow neon signage favoured by the Jackson Withers circuit was added to the facade, illuminating the cinema name and red brick walls. In 1958 a new cinema was built nearby, threatening revenue of the Avenue cinema.

The Jackson Withers circuit planned to close one of the other cinemas it had acquired in the Ely area, the much larger Regent. Instead it was persuaded to close the smaller Avenue because of its close proximity to the main road, which had heavy traffic noise, affecting the auditorium.

The Avenue closed on the 17th of June 1960, just twenty years after opening. Following closure the former cinema was adapted for retail use, a car showroom, offices and more recently a Blockbuster DVD outlet. Cladding was added, covering much of the original facade, with the introduction of mobile phones, mobile phone masts have become a feature of the building.
Woodville Road.
Built in 1913 as the Coronet Electric Theatre with seating on one level for 600, this small cinema in the suburbs of the city, which was a short walk away, catered for the population of the residential area of the growing city. The cinema was affectionately called the Cor by patrons in the area.

By 1924 it was refurbished and renamed the Cosy Coronet cinema, a few years later and it was again renamed, this time the New Coronet cinema. The cinema was plain with a tin roof, resulting in a lot of noise in the auditorium whenever it rained. The Coronet was a family run cinema that kept ticket prices low, which probably explains why it attracted good audiences when other city centre cinemas were nearby with the latest films alongside the luxury of cinema in that era.

Although a small cinema the auditorium featured a new large curved screen, installed sometime during the spring of 1954, it is not thought to have been upgraded for Cinemascope, though there was a large screen for the size of the auditorium. A festoon covered the screen between performances and there was fixed masking, suggesting that the new large screen was not adjustable to accommodate other film formats rather than standard 35MM ratio.

The cinema continued to function through the early fifties with reruns of popular films forming a double bill.

During the late fifties the owner operator of the venue became ill, a manager was employed for a short time to operate the cinema, eventually the cinema was sold to the Jackson Withers Circuit who eventually closed the cinema to focus business on their other venues in the district. Unused for many years the former cinema was demolished and in 1974 a petrol station was built on the site. 

The petrol station has now been demolished and the site redeveloped with housing.

We would welcome any press cuttings, auditorium photographs of this cinema.
Please email the webmaster.
Newport Road.
Located on the corner of Newport Road, an already busy road in the thirties, the cinema was built by the local Splott cinema circuit, forming part of its subsidary, the Llanrumney Cinema Co. The venue opened on the 26th December 1939, with seating on two levels, stalls and balcony, for 1,050.

The traditional red brick building was well designed by the local Cardiff architect William S Wort, who had completed a number of buildings for various uses throughout Cardiff and the South Eastern Welsh Valleys. Although Worts works were not exclusively cinemas and theatres he certainly played a major role in the design and building of these venues for the major circuits and the many smaller local circuits that dominated the Industrial valleys that stemmed from Cardiff, in Cardiff his input during modification and remodelling of entertainment venues are apparent throughout the city, including the Prestigious Prince of Wales Theatre during the decision to adapt the venue for use as a cinema.  For reasons unknown seating at the County had been reduced in 1966 to 1,021. There is no evidence suggesting that the auditorium had been remodeled for Cinemascope.

During the mid fifties the cinema was acquired by the Jackson Withers Circuit and continued to function as a successful cinema through to the mid seventies. Eventually the County closed on 8th November 1974, with Roger Moore, Ray Milland in the adventure film Gold. Local press reports suggest the cinema closed one day earlier than planned due to fears over a protest.

The Jackson Withers Circuit submitted plans for the venue to be converted to a smaller cinema in the former balcony with bingo in the stalls, the application was rejected, the cinema remained unused for a number of years and deteriorated, becoming an eye sore. Plans were made to convert the venue to a snooker club when this failed to happen, the cinema became a DIY store which closed some years later. 

Following the failure of various and numerous suggestion for alternative use of the old cinema a number of campaign groups continued to campaign to retain the County Cinema for community entertainment use, nothing became of the suggestions with many locals believing that the city council was focused in demolishing the venue to enable redevelopment of the site. Eventually the site was developed when the cinema was demolished in August of 1986 in preparation for the construction of new community housing.
Penarth Road.
With seating for 511 patrons in the stalls and a tiny balcony, the Ninian was a small but functional cinema built in 1913 by architects H.M Pritchard & Seymour to serve the local residential community of Grangetown, originally a silent screen cinema, although a small venue the Ninian benefited from the highly populated suburb of Cardiff.

Although a small cinema the Ninian façade became a landmark highly decorated, to effect with colourful neon lighting, the four storey venue attracted a good audience for its programmes of mostly second run double bill features.

Inside the auditorium the screen was very small but this didn’t put off the loyal patrons, ticket prices were much lower than the larger cinemas that populated the suburbs and city centre. Sound was installed in 1930 and the venue continued to perform well with double bills of popular films that had been shown at the city centre cinemas. 

An independent cinema during its early years the Ninian was swiftly acquired by the expanding Splott Cinema Circuit. By the 1940s it was given a much needed revamp, unfortunately while work was in progress a small fire started in the roof causing considerable smoke and water damage. The cinema closed for 12 months while repairs and rebuilding took place. Another revamp was added in the 1950s using plans devised by another architect, J.B. Wride. 

The venue was never one of the cities showpieces as a cinema but it was functional and served the needs of the community and operators. Cinemascope was not thought to have been introduced to the cinema even when alterations were made during the 50s, Cinemascope films were projected onto the small 22ft screen, without masking, therefore enabling the local audiences to see Cinemascope features, albeit not quite as the format was intended.

 Locally the Ninian was called the Nin or the bughouse. The small projection room was equipped with two Kalee 35MM projectors. Locally the Ninian was called the Nin or the bughouse. The small projection room was equipped with two Kalee 35MM projectors.
Welcome to an affectionate appraisal and tribute to the cinemas that entertained us in the South Eastern industrial valleys of Wales.
UPDATED - 2013
Michael Williams has written a very informative and interesting feature regarding his experience of Cinerama in Cardiff's Park Hall Cinerama Cinema. Use Cinerama logo link below to view his memories.
Select the link below to return to the main menu for additional choices.
The Monico cinema opened on the 18th April 1937 with the Gary Cooper adventure film Lives of a Bengal Lancer and a supporting programme that included a comedy short together with the familiar newsreel that was a popular feature in most cinemas of the era.

Designed by the local Cardiff architect, William S. Wort, the Monico originally featured a simple art deco façade with seating for 950 patrons in the stalls and balcony. For a suburban city cinema it was considered to be a small cinema. Even so the Monico was popular within the local community, playing mostly second run features following their presentation at the major cinemas a short distance away in the city centre. Low ticket prices ensured that the cinema would attract respectable attendances and revenue.

Just two years after opening the Monico was acquired by the Splott Cinema Circuit, a small but healthy suburban circuit of five or six cinemas operating in the residential outskirts of the Capitol city. By the late forties or early fifties the small but promising empire of cinemas under the Splott Circuit banner was acquired by Jackson Withers and became part of the growing South Wales and West Circuit that Withers had been building. The venue continued as a single screen cinema business under the ownership of the Jackson Withers Circuit with the occasional suggestion that it might incorporate a bingo club within the auditorium, something that doesn’t seem to have happened.

In 1974/76 the venue was put up for sale by the Rank Organisation who considered it to be surplus to requirements following their acquisition of the Jackson Withers Circuit. Local exhibitor, Brian Bull, who ran a small circuit of cinemas under the trading name of Circle Cinemas Ltd in Cardiff and a few valleys towns, took over the Monico, converting the venue to a two screen operation. The twin screens, one in the original stalls and another in the balcony seated 433 and 156 patrons respectively. Brian continued to operate the Monico twin screen cinema until the 30th January 2003 when Brian withdrew from cinema exhibition which had become highly competitive and difficult to continue trading in an industry that was going through considerable changes. 

The local community voiced their displeasure that they would lose a local entertainment venue but this did nothing to prevent the demolition of the former cinema, which is now replaced with a large block of flats. 

By the 1950s the Jackson Withers Circuit acquired the Ninian cinema, some cosmetic improvements were applied internally while the exterior was redecorated with additional Jackson Withers Circuit coloured neon illuminations, something that had become a trademark of the Jackson Withers halls in Wales and the West. 

With cinema admissions at an all-time low the cinema was converted for use as a bingo club forming part of the Jackson Withers bingo circuit in 1972. The last film to be screened would be Puppet on a Chain on 20th January 1972.

Following closure as a bingo hall the former cinema was converted for retail use, and remains so today. Inside it is still possible to see signs of its use as a cinema so many years ago, while the façade has been slightly altered there has been very little change to its appearance since the time of opening all those years ago.

Just a few months after the 1934 redevelopment of the New Imperial Cinema, the venue was acquired by the flourishing Rank Organisation and became part of the organisations highly recognisable brand of Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres Ltd in November 1935.

Using the established local architect, William S. Wort, the chain remodelled the former New Imperial Cinema using the familiar Odeon template while increasing the size of the auditorium with the addition of a balcony/circle. The newly constructed auditorium provided seating for 1,663, with 1,135 in the stalls and 528 in the curved balcony. While the façade remained plain and narrow, inside the auditorium and foyers boasted a range of ornamental art deco features designed to create an atmosphere of opulence and grandeur while retaining the original features of the New Imperial design. The newly designed and modernised Odeon opened on the 14th September 1936 with a gala performance of Modern Times, starring Charlie Chaplin.

In 1954 further alterations were necessary for the installation of a Cinemascope screen. By the late 1950s the local press reported plans to close the Odeon in Queen Street. The Rank Organisation were running three cinemas in the city, the nearby Capitol Cinema which was hugely popular and also capable of hosting live shows and rock concerts using its large stage. In addition to the sizeable Gaumont, this was also on Queen Street and seated 2,599 patrons. The Odeon at this time was programmed with mostly second run features or extended runs of popular films previously showing at the organisations other city centre cinemas, the Capitol or Gaumont, all on the same street.

The press story came to nothing, instead the Gaumont was closed in 1961, and meanwhile The Odeon remained virtually unaltered as a single screen cinema until January 1980. With the closure and sale of the former Capitol cinema in 1978, the remaining Odeon cinema was twinned with screen 1 in the original stalls, now seating 1,000 and screen 2 in the former balcony seating 500.

The new twin screen Odeon required the building of a new projection box at the rear of the former stalls area. Unusually, two projectors were still used for a while, though the manageress had to apologise to the audience during a James Bond film for the unexpected interval required when one of the two machines failed.

While the Gaumont and Capitol cinemas both boasted wide fronts with elaborate entrances and advertising spaces the Odeon cinema and the almost next door neighbour ABC Olympia cinema both featured extremely narrow front facades originally modelled by converting former shop units, this type of narrow front façade was unusual for both the ABC and ODEON chains, both cinemas had auditoriums built separately behind the original retail outlets, using narrow passage ways to link the foyer areas to the auditoriums. Although unconventional, using the shop units to access the auditoriums ensured maximum footfall and proved to be beneficial to the cinemas.

The Rank Organisation a new five screen multiplex cinema in the new Capitol shopping Mall, which was built on the site of the former Capitol Cinema. Attendance figures for the Odeon two screen cinemas, just up the road from the newly built Odeon Five screen complex in the Capitol, collapsed and the Odeon closed on the 16th May 2000 with the films The Green Mile and American Beauty. The auditorium was demolished in January 2003, the remaining foyer area was converted to retail use.

The Park Hall was built during the 1880s by local businessmen, the hall formed part of the Park Hotel, designed to be a showpiece hotel in the centre of the city. Originally the purpose of the multi – function Park Hall was to help fill the rooms by staging live orchestra concerts, wrestling and boxing events that were highly popular at the time alongside use of the hall for exhibitions, meetings, dances with big bands of the day and religious gatherings, all the popular past time activities at the time of construction. With seating for 1,850 patrons the Park Hall was indeed a sizeable addition to the entertainment facilities available in Cardiff at the time.

As film entertainment was fast becoming a popular social leisure activity the Park Hall was awarded a cinematograph license in 1910. Occasional film shows were screened alongside live performances and public meetings. During World War one the Park Hall started regular film performances, silent films became a popular attraction at the hall, accompanied by a Willis concert organ, plus an orchestra, the biggest cinema orchestra in Wales. By 1915 the Park Hall had been turned into a full time cinema.

The Sir Percy Thomas partnership was employed in 1935 to redesign the cinema, converting it to a dedicated official cinema. At this time the flat auditorium stalls floor were retained although a new proscenium highlighting the stage area replaced the stage and the decorative Victorian feature balcony was removed. Shortly after completion of the auditorium the Willis organ was rebuilt and by 1936 the organ would make a grand entrance as part of the film programme, rising from below the screen on a lift. The grand opening event was by the then celebrated organist, Edgar Lewis. Seating had now been increased to 2,500.

The newly designed Park Hall cinema was very popular in the city. A visit to the Park Hall was a very special occasion, even though Cardiff had a number of established big hall cinemas by now, the ABC, Odeon, Capitol and so on.

Competing with these other venues ensured that the operators of the hall kept up to date with the latest in cinema exhibition, during the 1950s 20th Century Fox used the hall as its first run flagship cinema in Wales for the new Cinemascope films. Fox installed a 37 foot Cinemascope screen and equipped the auditorium with powerful full stereo sound. Prior to the conversion the Cardiff Film Society used the Park Hall for 35MM screenings to its members, the film society was launched in 1948 and soon boasted 400 members. Membership increased to 800 when the society started showing films at the Park Hall in 1949.

Although now the established home of the big 20th Century Fox Cinemascope blockbuster films, the Park Hall remained an independent cinema, as time moved on it was struggling to book the necessary big blockbuster films needed to attract the size of audiences to fill the auditorium. It was decided to review its business proposal and develop the hall for the new craze, Cinerama.Although now the established home of the big 20th Century Fox Cinemascope blockbuster films, the Park Hall remained an independent cinema, as time moved on it was struggling to book the necessary big blockbuster films needed to attract the size of audiences to fill the auditorium. It was decided to review its business proposal and develop the hall for the new craze, Cinerama.

In 1964 the Park Hall was dramatically rebuilt and remodelled to screen the larger format Cinerama pictures, with six track stereo sound and the three projection system to screen films on the impressive and enormous curved Cinerama screen. The Park Hall became the home of Cinerama in Wales, no other cinema in the Principality would be equipped for this format of film.In 1964 the Park Hall was dramatically rebuilt and remodelled to screen the larger format Cinerama pictures, with six track stereo sound and the three projection system to screen films on the impressive and enormous curved Cinerama screen. The Park Hall became the home of Cinerama in Wales, no other cinema in the Principality would be equipped for this format of film.
The Park Hall Cinerama opened towards the end of 1964 with the blockbuster of the day, How the west was won. Cinerama proved to be a spectacular audience experience at the Park Hall, the venue screened all the early Cinerama productions, attracting healthy audiences and good box office receipts.

Although a spectacular event Cinerama was a costly method of film presentation to venues, Cinerama cinemas worldwide started to convert to the cheaper Cinerama option that required a single lens projector for the single strip 70MM Cinerama films. In less than a year from opening as the Park Hall Cinerama, with its conversion at great expense, the Park Hall converted to slightly cheaper 70MM Cinerama. Although a spectacular event Cinerama was a costly method of film presentation to venues, Cinerama cinemas worldwide started to convert to the cheaper Cinerama option that required a single lens projector for the single strip 70MM Cinerama films. In less than a year from opening as the Park Hall Cinerama, with its conversion at great expense, the Park Hall converted to slightly cheaper 70MM Cinerama.

The venue continued to screen the Cinerama releases for some years, although, just like Imax during its initial years, the Cinerama product for screen was minimal. The venue screened the popular epics such as Karakatoa – East of java, Custer of the west, all very popular attractions for the cinema but the hall struggled to secure suitable films worthy of the enormous curved screen, it continued with 70MM screenings of The Wild Bunch and return visits of The sound of music and other big blockbuster reruns on 70MM. With 70MM prints becoming difficult to obtain and very little new product on release for this format the cinema closed in 1971.The venue continued to screen the Cinerama releases for some years, although, just like Imax during its initial years, the Cinerama product for screen was minimal. The venue screened the popular epics such as Karakatoa – East of java, Custer of the west, all very popular attractions for the cinema but the hall struggled to secure suitable films worthy of the enormous curved screen, it continued with 70MM screenings of The Wild Bunch and return visits of The sound of music and other big blockbuster reruns on 70MM. With 70MM prints becoming difficult to obtain and very little new product on release for this format the cinema closed in 1971.
Following closure the Park Hall remained unused and derelict, except as a storage area. In later years the rear of the auditorium was demolished to make way for a car park, used by the Park Hall Hotel guests. Additional hotel rooms were added to the remaining portion of the former cinema while the ground floor foyer area has been converted to a number of retail uses, the area is currently in use as a bar. A fire in 2007 caused damage to the only remaining area of the Park Hall Cinema, the entrance and foyer, causing the facility to be remodelled with a public bar in the former cinema foyer, the remodelled area shows no evidence of its past as a cinema. 

Although the cinema no longer exists the original hotel building continues to serve Cardiff as the Thistle Parc hotel with 140 bedrooms and suites together with eight meeting and function rooms promoted for the use of lectures, corporate business meetings and parties in addition to a large hall suited to wedding functions.

The venue is unlikely to revel in the fame it once enjoyed as a formidable hotel for the wealthy with a box office busting Cinerama cinema that offered high standards of film presentation on the massive Cinerama screen that captivated and thrilled audiences during its role in cinema history. The venue is unlikely to revel in the fame it once enjoyed as a formidable hotel for the wealthy with a box office busting Cinerama cinema that offered high standards of film presentation on the massive Cinerama screen that captivated and thrilled audiences during its role in cinema history.

With the exception of the cities Capitol cinema/theatre the Park Hall cinema was the place to see a big lavish screen spectacular during its reign as a Cinemascope and Cinerama cinema. The massive screen ensured that a visit to the Park Hall cinema would be an unforgettable experience suited to the presentation required for the major epic films of the era.

Further information on the Park Hall Cinerama Cinema can be seen on the dedicated Cinerama link at the bottom of this page, scroll down to the link to view more about Cinerama in Wales.
The Philharmonic Hall, located a few doors down from the Prince of Wales Cinema has been used for live performance and briefly screened films, mostly the silent films with a live orchestra accompanying the film. Although a popular venue for silent films sound was installed during the early 1930s. 

Although intended for music hall and variety the auditorium featured a functional but narrow stage, decorated with fancy flanked Corinthian columns on pedestals supporting the narrow proscenium. The Philharmonic Hall included a dance hall on the upper floors and a café, something that was a common feature in may entertainment venues of the era. Over the years the facilities changed with a restaurant being incorporated into the venue together with a popular soda fountain for cinema patrons. Cinema going was popular throughout Wales and the Philharmonic Hall was adapted for use as a cinema operated by a number of different operators during the years of its life as a cinema. 

Very few alterations were made to the venue during its use as a cinema other than the installation of sound. The most significant changes during its use as a cinema was the modification of the original entrance together with a new seating configuration in the balcony and a new staircase and foyer to serve the balcony area, much of the original balcony was rebuilt at this time to strengthen the floor and facilitate comfortable seating in the balcony, which slightly reduced the seating capacity.

Over the years the Philharmonic operated as a cinema programmed with second run features and a period when the venue became the home of popular continental adventure and drama films.

Films continued to be screened at the venue although by the late fifties the venue operators considered the idea of switching to use as a bingo hall. However the switch to bingo didn’t happen until 1968 when the venue became the Gala Bingo and Social Club with minimal modifications to the interior used as a cinema, even so the venue became the city centres primary bingo venue for many years. 

Following many years of use as the Gala bingo Club the venue ceased activities as a bingo club in the late nineties, some say it is mostly a result of the smoking ban that was introduced while others suggest that the closure was a direct result of modern purpose built bingo halls sprouting up in the suburbs of Cardiff.

The Philharmonic is grade II listed although during the eighties permission was granted for modifications to the balcony to facilitate additional seating for bingo. Originally a U shaped balcony, the modification brought forward the balcony, filling in the natural void created by the original U shape.

The venue remained closed and unused for a number of years following the end of bingo, during which time it was looking unsightly in the modern streets and shopping area of Cardiff. For a while the former hall became a fashionable and popular cafe bar, called the Square, a chain brand that functions at towns and cities in the UK.

Although a busy and popular venue with the young crowd, the Square surprisingly closed the day after a New Year’s Eve party towards the later part of the 2000s. The venue has remained closed and boarded up for some years, however during 2013 a local consortium submitted plans to restore the Philharmonic Hall for use as a new entertainment complex, these plans were agreed by the city council and the new venue is expected to open later in 2014. 

Originally opened as the Theatre Royal with seating for over 1,000 patrons in the stalls and two balconies together with four smaller VIP boxes the theatre opened in during the early to mid-1800s and was indeed a very grand affair. With the best shows of the day alongside extravagant concerts and opera performances. 

The theatre was redesigned on two occasions, first in 1877 following a devastating fire that destroyed a significant amount of the original theatre. Waring Son and W.D. Blessey redesigned the theatre with additional new ornamental features while restoring the original features that made the theatre such a grand building. A second redesign took place in 1920 with local architects Wilmott and Smith, at this time the theatre was renamed the Playhouse Theatre. Unfortunately the Playhouse closed in 1925 for further alterations when local architect William S. Wort was appointed. The theatre reopened in 1927 and was still known as The Playhouse Theatre, during the mid to late thirties the theatre was renamed again, this time it became the Prince of Wales Theatre and continued to offer a varied programme of live performances attracting the biggest names of theatre and performance of the era.

Films were introduced to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1957, at first they screened exclusive subtitled art house or continental films with the occasional second run of big screen films that had done well at other cinemas in Wales.
During the early 1960s the cinema introduced second run films with the occasional first run. 

 From the late sixties through to its closure on the 30th June 1984 the cinema was established for showing X rated often soft porn films usually as a double bill and dubbed into English. The closing programme being a double bill of Alexandra, queen of sex and Boys & Girls together.

Following closure of the cinema the venue offered bingo and then became Caesar’s nightclub. Wetherspoons acquired the site and converted it to a pub in 1999, restoring the interior to the 1920 style. The building is grade II listed and offers an impressive interior. 

Although no longer in use as a theatre or cinema any visitor to Cardiff will enjoy visiting the venue as a place for refreshments and a meal which will give you the opportunity to witness how good the venue would have been as a theatre or cinema, by sitting in the former balcony area you have a birds eye view of the original auditorium, stage area, stalls and balcony, the second tiered balcony above is not in use but can be clearly seen from this viewing point. 
Although the remodelled auditorium did now include a total of 1,900 seats and often referred to as 2,000 seats in local publicity. With two changes of programme each week and cheaper ticket prices the cinema continued to be popular to the local residents who could not or did not want to pay the higher prices of the city centre cinemas.

From some date in the mid fifties the Jackson Withers Circuit programmed the Splott cinema together with the other venues that belonged to the circuit, it remains unclear if the Splott Circuit was actually sold to the Jackson Withers Circuit.

The Rank Organisation acquired the venue for bingo in 1976 and continued to operate it as Top Rank Bingo and then Mecca bingo before it was sold to Riva Bingo. Bingo came to an end in 2009 and the venue was briefly used for worship although the venue is now closed and boarded up. In 2013 the venue was put on the market for sale by auction, at present there is no confirmation that the building has been sold although it is likely that it was intended for sale for development.

With a commanding position in a busy local location of the city, it remains to be seen what will happen to the former cinema and bingo hall that entertained the local community for a good number of years.
The cavernous Splott cinema opened on the 16th May 1913, to serve the cinema going residents of Spottlands, a residential suburb of Cardiff, towards the then busy Cardiff docks area of the growing city.

Originally seating 750 patrons on one level, the venue became one of the first cinemas in the important Splott (Cardiff) Cinema Co Ltd, an early exhibitor in the Cardiff area, mostly focused on the suburbs rather than central Cardiff. 

By 1930 and the introduction of sound films, the picture house underwent a considerable rebuild to increase capacity, local architect William Worth, who had already worked on a number of the circuits cinemas planned to introduce a balcony, unfortunately, the balcony was never added.