Many people assume that the only cinema in our area was the Ritz (later in 1956 the ABC) in Grimsby Road built in 1937. This is not so, as there was one important other site, which not only was a cinema, but has a history of entertainment stretching over a long period of time.
This cinema was called the Royal Kinema and was a wooden building in Grant Street, close to the railway station and opened in 1912. In the First World War it was requisitioned by the Army, and used as a billet by the Manchester Regiment who were detailed to guard our coast line.
After the First World War it reopened but not for long, as it burnt down in August 1919 and consequently only operated as a cinema for a total of three years.
Mr. Samuel Barned rebuilt the venue more solidly with a replacement and renamed, ‘The Theatre Royal,’ in 1921. He ran it himself until 1927 when the Cleethorpes Company took over.
The first picture shown was ‘Bessie’s Ride’ and it was a popular venue which seated 1400 people on two levels. The venue also contained a ballroom and a restaurant.
On February 15th 1930, the first talking picture was shown called ‘Coconuts’.
It now operated not only as a cinema, but also, as it had a good stage, it was used by local amateur groups such as, “The Silhouettes’ and by various visiting variety performers.
Before long it was advertising itself as ‘the Premier Cinema and Variety Theatre in the District’ and later, in 1931 stated ‘You have not heard the Talkies at their best, until you’ve heard them at the Royal.’
For a while the ABC cinema (Ritz) and the Royal were in direct competition but in November 1962, planning permission was granted to demolish the Royal and replaced with a 10 pin bowling alley, but it wasn’t until Saturday 19th July 1963 that the Royal closed its doors to the paying public.
The next day the manager, Mr. Frank Norrington, gave a special free performance to all old “Meggies” showing a very old local film of Cleethorpes and District from the early 1900’s to 1937 as a final farewell.
Change is always with us in this area and it was not long before the bowling alley was closed and soon it was reopened as a night club in 1970 by a well-known former fishing skipper called Bunny Newton.
This gentleman was one of the many characters found in our area from time to time. Many stories are told about him. The most famous was during the Cod Wars, when his boat was arrested for fishing within the Icelandic limits and placed under arrest in Reykjavik. He locked three Icelandic policemen in a cabin slipped the moorings and set sail back successfully to England.
He and his family partners, brought many famous names of the time to the Royal. They included, Bob Monkhouse, Eartha Kitt, Norman Wisdom, Charles Aznavour, Tommy Cooper, Val Doonican, Alvin Stardust and Bruce Forsyth to name but a few.
The good times did not continue and the bottom half of the building became the Clifton Bingo hall.
Eventually the club itself was sold to two London business men in 1979 but was destroyed by fire in 1982.
Then a family feud occurred and Bunny Newton was murdered by his son, also in 1997, with a shotgun. The judge at the trial only gave the son a four year sentence, which meant he was released in two. For such a light sentence to be given, one can perhaps presume there were exceptional circumstances.
The Clifton Bingo Hall itself, was demolished in 2005.
It was described by the Clifton family then as ‘The end of an era’. With such a history over the last hundred years, one can be perhaps forgiven for wondering what the next 100 years will bring to this site.
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