A Little History

Originally published at CinemaTreasures.org

Read the original here

The Rialto Cinema was opened on 6th October 1928 with Dolores Del Rio in “Ramona”, and with film stars Anna May Wong & John Stuart in attendance. It was built by an Australian, A.C. Matthews, who was also the architect. It boasted a cafe, but had a very small stage. Two years later he also built and designed the adjacent Albany Cinema (later taken over by Granada Theatres and re-named Century Cinema).

The Rialto Cinema followed the same path, later being operated by Excelsior Cinemas and then Medway Cinemas, it was taken over by the Granada Theatres Ltd. chain in March 1949.

They employed noted cinema architect George Coles to modernise the building and it was re-named Granada Theatre from 11th September 1950. Known as the Granada Crystal Palace from 12th February 1961, it began part time bingo sessions in 1967, but went back to full time cinema use until finally closing on 26th May 1968 with Marlon Brando in “Reflections in a Golden Eye” and Patrick O’Neil in “Assignment to Kill”.

It was converted into a Granada Bingo Club from 27th June 1968. It was taken over by Gala Bingo in May 1991, and they operated it until closure around April/May 2009.

The building was put up for sale, and interested parties included the City Screen group, who showed interest in re-opening as an art house cinema, which seemed to get a great deal of public support. Another interested body was a church. In June 2009, a decision on a purchaser has still to be announced.

Contributed by Ken Roe