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(Picture courtesy of Dover Library)

Once a proud super-cinema with stage and pit organ, the old Granada cinema in Castle Street is deteriorating as it waits for present owners , Weatherspoons, to rescue it from falling down.

Opened in 1930, this was the first of Sidney Bernstein's luxury theatres.  Provided with a 15 feet deep stage with proscenium arch, large enough for an orchestra or big band, the Granada was a popular venue in the 1950s and '60s with major pop groups drawing large crowds and popular acts such as the Billy Cotton Band, David Whitfield and Dave King making appearances.  I recall seeing Lenny the Lion on one occasion!

Whilst performing here in the 1950s, David Whitfield dropped his American car off at the garage across the road for a service.

The console of the 3-manual, 7-rank Christie organ was mounted on a lift in the centre of the orchestra pit and would rise up from the floor during the intermission with the organist seated at the keyboard.  The interior of the building was magnificently decorated, in contrast to the rather un-prepossessing exterior.

The images below are taken from the programme for the opening of the cinema on 8th January, 1930.

"The necessity in Kent for a Theatre combining all the modern improvements which make for comfort and enjoyment is generally admitted.

This Granada Theatre we have created will, we trust, fill that need and become a monument of pride to the County and a source of relaxation and amusement to many thousands of the people of Kent, giving them, at a reasonable admission price, generous entertainment which will brighten their leisure hours.

The expert advice of specialists in their respective spheres has been sought and taken full advantage of - every detail has had equal forethought bestowed upon it to this end.

Our screen will be kept from undesirable entertainment, maintaining only that which is best and most worthy.  Our stage presentations will be of an equally high standard.

The showing of motion pictures has now become a great and honourable craft.  The talkies, stage shows, orchestras, pipe organs, luxury seating, scientific ventilations and staffs well trained in courtesy, have raised the theatre branch entertainment to the highest level.

It is at this high standard that we look forward with pleasure to serving the amusement needs of the County."

(Programme courtesy of Dover Public Library)

The cinema was fitted with a Christie organ, built by Hill Norman and Beard.

Mr. Hedley Morton was appointed resident solo organist.

In 1960 the name of the cinema was changed to ABC and the organ was sold to a private collector in Warwickshire, where it remained until around 2005, when the owner died and the collection was sold.  No recordings of the organ have been traced.


The picture above shows the console of the 3-manual Christie organ.

The article (right) gives a description of the instrument.

(Kinematograph Weekly, January 1930 - courtesy of Dover Public Library)

Top of the bill at the first stage show after the renaming of the cinema in March 1960 was teen-age idol Cliff Richard, who headed a rock-and-roll show on the night of Monday, April 25th, 1960.

  The circle seats were closed in the early 1970s, when cinema audiences started to fall with the spread of television.  The cinema finally closed on 30th October 1982, despite suggestions to split it into a 2- or 3-screen multiplex to increase attendance.

Its new use was a a night club, but this was not successful.  The red-brick building was painted in silver and black - an eyesore!



Dover was without a cinema for several years, until the small screen was opened at the rear of the museum in Gaol Lane.