The Broadway Cinema 52 Church Street Eccles
ECCLES - The directors of the Eccles (Broadway) Theatre Limited have placed the contract for the erection of their super-cinema with Messrs P Hamer Limited, building contractors, 15 Park Street, Swinton, Manchester. Plans have been prepared by Messrs Drury and Gomersall, Imperial Chambers, Oxford Road, Manchester. The building is planned to accommodate 2,000 people and building work is to start forthwith. The estimated cost is £45,000. [Builder 3 July 1931 Page 34]
Built by P. Hamer Limited of Swinton at a cost of £70,000 and with seating for 2,500, The Broadway was the last and probably most luxurious cinema to be opened in Eccles. Performances began on Saturday 29 July 1932 and talkies were shown from the outset, a Western Electric sound system having been installed. However, there was still provision for an orchestra, with a lifting orchestra platform to bring the performers into view and a three manual type organ built by William Hill & Sons and Norman and Beard. Variety acts were intended to provide an important part of the programme and the stage was of sufficient size to accommodate touring theatrical productions. Such shows continued throughout the thirties. With the outbreak of war, Sunday concerts were introduced and these continued until 1947. In the early 1960s pop concerts were held but the financial viability of the cinema was increasingly threatened. In 1962, proposals were put forward to convert the building into a ten-pin bowling alley but local opposition forced the owners to abandon the idea.
From the beginning, the impact of the motor car on leisure activity was apparent. A car park for 400 vehicles was provided and advertised from the time of the cinema's opening. The local newspaper also noted that "The car park attendants will be fully qualified motor mechanics and will be available for minor running repairs should it arise".
The cinema was originally built for Peter Ashcroft, one time mayor of Salford and chairman of the Broadway Cinema. In 1935 it became part of the Mancunian Circuit and on 24 February 1936 became part of Union Cinemas owned by David Bernhart, at which time it appears to have been re-named the Broadway Theatre. On Bernhart's death in 1942 the cinema became part of the ABC Group and continued as such until its closure on 13 March 1974. In 1975 it was sold to Kwik Save and became a supermarket. It was finally demolished in 2001 to make way for a car park for a new Morrisons Supermarket.
Reference : Builder 3 July 1931 Page 34 - new cinemas
Reference : Cinemas of Eccles
Archive : RIBA Collection of drawings by Drury Gomersal & Partners (fl. 1931)] Contents: Eccles (Lancashire): Broadway Theatre, working drawings for the cinema, site plan, ground floor plan, balcony plan, elevations, 1931 [PA515/3(1 7)]