IN PICTURES: The Pitsea Broadway cinema in its luxurious heyday

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THE Pitsea Broadway Cinema, opened in 1930, was a slice of glamorous luxury.

Owned by Roget Howard, it was built in a Tudor style by J C Flaxman and Son’s Ltd and the interior was a vision of brown, buff and cream with draperies by Kemballs, Westcliff and a beautiful terrazzo floor with a mosaic of the sun’s rays byTramontini Ltd, Westcliff.

Here are images of the plush Pitsea cinema from its heyday in the thirties, its transformation to Century cinema before it became Gala bingo,to its current state today, undergoing demolitiontomake way for new flats to be built on the site.

Echo: Carnival Queen Joan Bartle and recording star Russ Hamilton in October 1958Carnival Queen Joan Bartle and recording star Russ Hamilton in October 1958 (Image: Basildon Borough Heritage)

The research on The Broadway was done by Alan Cox, of the Basildon Borough Heritage group, who produced an informative booklet available to buy for £3 from the Green Centre at Wat Tyler Country Park.

Within the booklet it has details from Kinematograph Weekly printed April 10, 1930 detailing the two architects responsible for the design were A J Vandel andL A Green who undertook the work of planning the cinema. The Pitsea Broadway had 15,000 squarefeetallononefloorand the stage was equipped to deal with musical or dramatic performance.

Echo: The Broadway in Pitsea during its heydayThe Broadway in Pitsea during its heyday (Image: Basildon Borough Heritage)

In December 1936 a fire broke out in a dressing room. It was extinguished with the audience staying inseatsandafter 15minutes the film was resumed.

In 1956 The Granada Group bought the cinema and renamed it Century. The seating was realigned so there was two isles instead of three. The orchestra pit was removed and floored over, two of the side exits were bricked up, the foyer was reduced and a sweet shop was introduced The flat above the foyer was closed and part of it made into a restaurant supplied by a kitchen on the ground floor.

Little changed in the projection room until 1965 when they installed Projectormatic, enabling projectors to change over from one another automatically. It was the first of its kind in the south east and other projectorist would travelto see it.

Inthe late sixties the manager, Mr Haines, introduced a Sunday pop group session for half an hour.

Echo: The Expresso Five, who played at The Broadway, rehearsing at Craylands Youth Centre, left to right Graham Bradley, Roy Sullivan, Tom Berric, Colin Hill and Pete Cackett copyThe Expresso Five, who played at The Broadway, rehearsing at Craylands Youth Centre, left to right Graham Bradley, Roy Sullivan, Tom Berric, Colin Hill and Pete Cackett copy (Image: Basildon Borough Heritage)

The cinema closed on October 31, 1970 and was renamed Gala in 1991.

In 1997 Bass sold their bingo chain and continued as Coral until Gala Coral Group Ltd closed down the venue in 2009.

See www.wattylercountrypark.org.uk/basildon-heritage or search “Basildon Heritage” on Facebook for details.





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