Cinema demolition threat sparks memories from nostalgic readers

The old Plaza Cinema in Chorley.
The old Plaza Cinema in Chorley.
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Plans to demolish a dilapidated Chorley landmark have sparked a flood of memories.

Earlier this month the Guardian revealed that the former Plaza Cinema in Bolton Road has been ear-marked for a new development.

The 1930s building, which stands on the roundabout at the junction with Bolton Street, was once home to a four screen cinema.

However, after its closure in 1986, the building went on to house a car showroom and later a gym, before its doors finally closed for good in 2005.

The art-deco designed property was then put on the market for a reported £1m, but after years of standing empty it’s now set to be pulled down.

Joyce Dicker, aged 78, moved to Chorley from Bamber Bridge after she married Stan Bleasedale.

When she was a teenager, she used to travel on a bus with a group of friends from Bamber Bridge to the Plaza in Chorley.

She said: “They used to have big band concerts at the Plaza on a Sunday evening, which were always very popular.

“We used to dance, and I wore flared skirts. We had a really good time. I’m sure a lot of people my age will remember.

“As soon as I read the article in the Guardian about the cinema being pulled down, I just had to ring in because all these memories came flooding back.

“After I met my husband Stan, he used to take me to the cinema to watch films with stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“It’s sad that the cinema is being taken down, but it is necessary because it’s been an eyesore for years now.”

Linda Sherlock, from Chorley, also remembers going to The Plaza.

She said: “I can remember seeing many films at the Plaza as far back as the late 1960s.

“I seem to remember a balcony where we sat and had tubs of ice cream from the usherette at the interval.

“Saturday afternoons were popular and I saw John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and we were even turned away one night as the queue for Grease was stretching along Bolton Road.”

She added: “It is an iconic building but it does look rather sad so I hope whatever replaces it goes on to evoke memories in the future.”

Norma Crompton, 71, from Spendmore Lane, Coppull, said: “I used to go the the Plaza and meet friends. I remember the building was very grand and it was all new art deco, it was fabulous.

“Wednesdays and Saturdays we would go, then after the film had finished we would call into O’Shea’s chippy on Bolton Road for supper and then find a tea bar.

“It’s funny when you look back because we never went into pubs, that was for the older generation.

“Believe it or not the town had five cinemas. The Odeon, Empire, Pavillion, Royal and Plaza. How times have changed.”

Paula Howarth from Alker Street, Chorley, has memories of her grandad working at the Plaza.

She said: “My grandad, Wilfred Hodgson, was a joiner by trade. He worked on the Plaza when it was being transformed from one screen to three.

“My grandma and I popped into see him one day as we walked home from school.

“All I remember is standing with him on the big stage that was behind the old single screen, where acts had once performed.

“It was the only cinema in town when I was growing up, and became a regular haunt of mine. The cut price Monday evenings was always a good night out.

“You got in cheap and we usually went to see horror films.

“When I started going out with my husband he took me to see Pink Floyd’s The Wall. He hated the band and slept all the way through the film, even though I sang all the way through it.”