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Bensham, Bewick Road West, Coatsworth Cinema







Extant Building

Built in 1913 (surely one of the earliest surviving purpose-built cinemas) in red brick with a Neo-Byzantine tower. It is now a boarded-up former bingo hall with a garish modern canopy {1}. This was the last cinema to be built in Gateshead before the First World War. The Coatsworth was designed by J. Landell Nicholson. The main entrance was on Bewick Road with a foyer across the width of the building. The stairs led via a mezzanine floor and waiting area to the 503 seat circle. On the ground floor there were 510 seats in the pit and 330 seats in the stalls. There was an orchestra pit and a stage. The paintwork was painted in 'delicate blues and cream'. With 1343 seats this was Gateshead's second largest pre-war cinema. It also had a board room for director's meetings. In 1914 railings and turnstiles were built to control the queues for the pit entrance. The Coatsworth opened on 8th December 1913. In 1919 Thomas D. Armstrong took it over and in 1920 built a new operating box and rewind room and a 4 stroey extension to the east by J. Oswald with waiting rooms, a store room and projection room. In 1926 an organ was installed, and remained in place until 1932. The cinema was reseated and redecorated in August 1937. It had underground air raid shelters. The Coatsworth closed as a cinema on 30th July 1960. It reopened as a bingo hall in September 1962 {2}.




Gateshead Council, 1999, Conservation Area Policy Guidelines, Strategies and Character Statements, Coatsworth Conservation Area, pp 25-31; Frank Manders, 1995, Cinemas of Gateshead, pp 54-56

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