Building Name

The Pyramid (Later Odeon) Sale

1932 - 1933
Washway Road
GMCA, England
John Buckley
New build
Grade II

Built in the Egyptian style, the exterior is in the form of a pylon with windows added. Above the entrance doors are four columns with hybrid bell-type capitals which carried the neon lettering and the central clock. Inside the hypostyle auditorium was also decorated in Egyptian style in fibrous plaster. Papyrus and lotus forms ran up the sides of the auditorium arch, while above the screen was a winged solar disc. Even the organ failed to escape the Egyptian treatment, the console having Egyptian heads on each side.

The circumstances in which the Pyramid at Sale in Cheshire was built were far from simple. The scheme was instigated by local entrepreneur John Buckley, who, having spent £5,000 on the site and commissioned a striking Egyptian‑influenced design from Drury and Gomersall, was not going to be put off from erecting the building by such a minor detail as the refusal of a licence. The refusal was brought about by protests from local churches, the police and rival cinema owners.  The building was ready to open by the start of 1934, but still the local authorities refused to grant Buckley a licence to open his Egyptian dream palace. The disgruntled showman responded by organising a massive publicity campaign and a petition, which eventually garnered 18,853 signatures. This stratagem finally forced the hand of the urban district council, who claimed that they had refused the licence because they had no evidence that another cinema was needed. Now they had no such doubts, the licence was granted.

The Pyramid was taken over by Odeon, along with Buckley's Lido cinema at Burnage, in December 1942, for £250,000. The renaming occurred around 1944/1945. The Pyramid/Odeon closed in Rank's controversial 1981 cull of insufficiently‑profitable cinemas. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, in later years, the cinema was notable more for its 'surly staff and its enormous cat' than for its marvellous Egyptian‑style auditorium. The organ was removed and installed at Bluecoat School, Oldham.[Rank's Rejects' by Allen Eyles (Films & Filming, October 1981)]

Re-named The Tatton, the cinema finally closed on the retirement of the owner, Jack Edge. By the mid-1980s the market for large traditional cinemas had contracted considerably while a new multiplex cinema complex was being developed at Salford Quays. At that time there remained only two other cinemas in Trafford ‑ Altrincham Studio 1, a reduced auditorium seating 446 and the Curzon Cinema in Urmston. This had been divided into two studios, one seating 386 and the other 134 seats.

The Pyramid was purchased in July 1985 by Trafford Borough Council for £200,000. The original intention was to demolish the building and dispose of the site for redevelopment. However, the potential for re‑use and adaptation was recognised and the Council explored the possibility of a civic/ leisure complex. In 1987, the building was listed Grade II and subsequently used as a night club. In 2001, major alteration works were in hand for conversion into a health club.

The original capacity of the theatre comprised:

Rear Circle     312    Fixing:    Level wood steppings
Front Circle    205    Fixing:    Level Wood steppings
Stalls           1335    Fixing: Mainly a raked floor sloping 1 in 10, levelling off after approximately 50 feet
Total            1852
All the seating was set at 20 inch (508mm) centres

Reference : Builder 2 June 1933 Page 908 -Work commenced this week on the Pyramid, Sale
Reference : Cinema, Theatre & General Construction. March 1934. Page 35
Reference : Manchester City News 2 January 1934 Page 8 with photograph of external facade
Reference : 'Rank's Rejects' by Allen Eyles (Films & Filming, October 1981)