Sandonia Cinema - Stafford - Feb 20

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BikinGlynn

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Located quite a distance away to the north of Stafford town centre. The Sandonia Cinema & Theatre was opened on 20th November 1920 with a stage production of “Chu Chin Chow”. The first film to be screened was Leslie Henson in “Alf’s Button” on 27th November 1920.

The facade of the building is attractively decorated in white stone, with the name ‘Sandonia’ in the stonework over the entrance Inside the extremely long and narrow auditorium, seating was located in stalls and circle levels. The cinema had a fully equipped stage, complete with a large fly tower for scenery. The distance from the projection box to the screen was a 110 feet throw.

Unfortunatelly I neglected to get any externals so have stole his from the net.

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Unfortunately, the Sandonia Cinema was not a great success, and it was closed in early-1923. It was sold to Messrs Goodalls, and re-opened on 5th March 1923 with “Anton Stewart in "Plaything of Destiny” and Al. St. John in “Village Sheik”.

In 1930, it became part of the small local Stafford Entertainments Ltd. chain. The last silent film to be screened was “The Silent House” on 16th August 1930. A BTH sound system was installed and the first talkie was Janet Gaynor in “Sunny Side Up” on 18th August 1930.

The Sandonia Cinema was equipped with CinemaScope on 8th June 1957 when Robert Wagner in “Between Heaven and Hell” became the first film in this process to be screened at the cinema. The Sandonia Cinema was closed on 26th September 1963 with Sophia Loren in “Madame” and Kent Taylor in “The Day Mars Invaded Earth”.

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The building was sold to a Wolverhampton company who re-opened it as an independent bingo club. Later operated as a Coral Bingo Club, bingo ceased in 1990, and it became a snooker club. The projectors were removed from the building in 1991 and sold to a private collector. The snooker club operated until the early-2000’s. Since then, it has stood empty and unused.

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Our explore here was another "drop in" on way back from somewhere late in the afternoon. Didnt know if this was accessible & its fair to say it was awkward & messy.

Once inside you soon realise there is very little left of the place & with the roof gone its just waiting to fall in on itself, but still made some reasonable decay pics

The light was all but gone in here forcing me to use long exposures.

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verdigris

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the plaster relief on a green background above the auditorium looks interesting - I suppose it hasn't been vandalised or stolen (yet) because it's so high up. Nice stained glass too.
 

BikinGlynn

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You don't often see a triangular shaped staircase! Makes a nice change from the usual.

Yeah it was pretty hight too, prob 6 floors equivalent from basement to top
 

BikinGlynn

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the plaster relief on a green background above the auditorium looks interesting - I suppose it hasn't been vandalised or stolen (yet) because it's so high up. Nice stained glass too.

Yeah u would need a bloody big ladder to get up to that
 

odeon master

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looks totally knackered, id say someones removed the internal plaster ceiling looks to have been smashed out for some reason as on some photos you can see side rooms with part plaster remaining
 

BikinGlynn

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looks totally knackered, id say someones removed the internal plaster ceiling looks to have been smashed out for some reason as on some photos you can see side rooms with part plaster remaining

Yep its pretty nackered, Im surprised it hasnt fell in on itself yet
 

BobClay

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I'm very sad to see it like that. As a kid (50's early 60's) I spent many an hour in there watching X films !! (They didn't bother much with age.) I actually saw 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' there which is famous for being considered as the worst film ever made. I was up in Stafford a couple of years ago (my home town) and I took this pix of it, looking very sad. :(

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BikinGlynn

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I'm very sad to see it like that. As a kid (50's early 60's) I spent many an hour in there watching X films !! (They didn't bother much with age.) I actually saw 'Plan 9 from Outer Space' there which is famous for being considered as the worst film ever made. I was up in Stafford a couple of years ago (my home town) and I took this pix of it, looking very sad. :(

View attachment 510841

yeah its a shame, Ill be suprised if its standing much longer tbh
 

Hayman

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You don't often see a triangular shaped staircase! Makes a nice change from the usual.
Re the "House Rules" sign , tune in to Talking Pictures TV (channel 81) on a Saturday morning and you will see a slide with a similar list of weapons to be handed in before entry shown before what were typical childern's shorts on a Saturday at the local picture house.

Who are the two heavies saying "Thanks for Calling"? The Kray Twins?
 

Hayman

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Thanks for that info. Imagine coming down them in one's costume, and hoping not to trip! As ever, what the audience sees on stage is a far cry from what happens elsewhere in a theatre.
 

BobClay

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In the sixties when I was a student I got a summer job with a window cleaner in Stafford and one of the tasks was to clean the underside of the balcony. I think it was being converted into a Bingo Hall at the time, the Snooker came a bit later ... (I think !!!) The underside of the balcony was coated in a thick brown gunge left by years and years of smokers. If had smoked .... (I never have) .... that would have cured me.

I believe the balcony was eventually ripped out and looking at those pix it made for a vast empty space. My latest understanding is that scaffolding is being built around the front due to falling debris. Its future is still uncertain but I can't help but think it's too far gone for any kind of restoration.
 

Hayman

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In the sixties when I was a student I got a summer job with a window cleaner in Stafford and one of the tasks was to clean the underside of the balcony. I think it was being converted into a Bingo Hall at the time, the Snooker came a bit later ... (I think !!!) The underside of the balcony was coated in a thick brown gunge left by years and years of smokers. If had smoked .... (I never have) .... that would have cured me.

I believe the balcony was eventually ripped out and looking at those pix it made for a vast empty space. My latest understanding is that scaffolding is being built around the front due to falling debris. Its future is still uncertain but I can't help but think it's too far gone for any kind of restoration.
My parents had a sea front hotel in Eastbourne in the 1960s and 1970s. One January - after having been open for the Christmas period - we took down the (obligatory) net curtains in the lounge, for washing. With the windows having been down a few inches for 'air', the tops of the curtains were laden with fine brown particles - from all the cigarette smoke from the fags the guests smoked. Yuk!
 

sadlerwells

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There seems to be an active ‘Save the Sandonia’ group which is attempting to at least save the frontage.
 
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