The History of the Cannon Cinema, Basingstoke.
The cinema opened up as the Waldorf on the 28th October 1935.
The Waldorf was not just a cinema, it also doubled as a theater. There was an orchestra pit at the front, and behind the curtains to the right was a small washroom for the performers to use. There were many rooms underneath the stage, some for storage, one of which was the boiler room. The downstairs (stalls) contained around 420 seats, and the upstairs (circle) contained around 250 seats.
Information is patchy about the history of the cinema, but hopefully more info will soon be found about the opening period.
On the 12th September 1955, a gentleman by the name of Frank Miles became the Manager of the entertainment complex. He was to be witness to the Waldorf changing hands to the ABC organisation which took place in 1968
Frank Miles left the cinema in 1971, and Brian Lewis took over on the 8th March 1971. Brian lasted 2 years and left in 1973.
Roger Marley & Co
Roger Marley joined as Manager in April 1973. 4 years later the most significant change to the building happened.
One of the Blue prints
Between June and September 1977, the cinema was turned into a 2 screen complex. A floor and screen was put into the Circle and it was called Screen 2. This obviously gave the cinema the ability to show more films... and make more money.
The Cinema in 1986
1986 saw two changes to the cinema, firstly Roger Marley left and was replaced by Richard Fulton. Secondly and most importantly the cinema was taken over by the Cannon Cinema organisation.
The Cinema in 1987
In 1987 Richard Fulton left and was replaced by the Assistant Manager, Joyce Williams. Joyce would be the last person to ever become Manager at the cinema.
In September 1990 the Warner Bros opened up a 10 screen Multiplex on the other side of Basingstoke. Without even giving the Cannon Cinema a fair chance at competeing against the Multiplex, the cinema was given its marching orders and closed only 5 months after the opening of the Warner Bros cinema.
The cinema closed its doors for the final time on the 21st February 1991. Its final film was a very aptly titled 'Death Warrant'.
A newspaper clipping
It was speculated that the building would become either a Bingo Hall, Nightclub or Casino... but nothing came of it. The building was reopened as a YMCA Charity shop some years later. This did not last long as in August 1999 the cinema was demolished. Infact, the whole of Lower Wote Street where it was situated was completely wiped off the map... for progress.
A new shopping mall is currently under construction.
The Site where it once stood. This pic was taken September 2000.
In another bout of irony, just a couple of metres to the left of the above picture, the Basingstoke Council have seen fit to build a new 10 screen Multiplex! It is being built as part of a new Shopping Precinct entitled 'Festival Place'. So if you live in Basingstoke, you can choose from 20 screens instead of 10. Having seen a list of some of the shops to soon be opening their doors within, i can quite honestly say that 'Festival Place' can now rank itself alongside all the other pre-packed plastic moulded shopping malls that seem to pop up every where. No hint of originality or wide range of choice in sight! Where are the little shops with character? Oh i know where... they are being stamped on by the same money hungry groups that once wiped the Cannon Cinema Basingstoke off the planet.
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