Monday, 7 November 2011

Electric Cinemas: the ABC Haymarket - Newcastle upon Tyne


The ABC Haymarket cinema is a special place for me. It was here back in 1976 that I saw the first ever summer blockbuster. That blockbuster was JAWS. I remember having to stand in a huge line for over an hour and wondering if there was going to be enough seats for all of the family or if we'd have to wait till the next showing three hours later. Fortunately we all got in and even had seats together. Phew. The cinema was packed and there was a sort of nervous expectation because we'd all read the stories in the newspapers of people having heart attacks, puking in the aisles, or running screaming from the building because the movie was so scary. JAWS came with a reputation as the ultimate shocker. And it was. Even 35 years later I still can't watch the first five minutes where the girl is attacked by the unseen shark. That freaked me out something serious that did. It's true that the scariest horror is best left to the imagination. Then there was the scene with the "head". When that popped out our whole row gave a sudden "holy shit" jolt and there was women shrieking, men swearing, kids clapping and popcorn everywhere.


Saw many a blockbuster there. Everything from FLASH GORDON to STAR TREK: the slowmotionless picture. But by far the biggest was ET. That was one crazy day. ET was huge. The movie was smashing box-office records all over the world and was the must see movie of the summer. Huge crowds that zig zagged like a long snake all around the back of the building and then some. We got in but this time we had to sit apart and I was stuck right at the back in the upper section - see the above photo. That's just about the view I had. A great movie and a great experience even though I ended up stuck next to a girl who blubbed her eyes out. She was quite hot though. Maybe I should have asked her for a date...


Like the nearby classic ODEON on Pilgrim Street, the Haymarket is long gone now. Knocked down when multiplexes were becoming the fashion and another nail in the coffin for those of us who loved  the real cinematic experience. The cinema closed in 1984 and the last movie shown was "Purple Rain" with Prince -  which kind of makes it even more depressing come to think of it. All that's left are the memories and they're all bloody fantastic.


  1. Love the pics. Makes me feel like I was there.

    I blubbed my eyes out at E.T., too, but I was 6.

    Blubbed my eyes out watching Toy Story 3 last night, too, but I imagine I'm pretty unique there. No grown men I know would do that.

  2. i worked at the haymarket as a projectionist, loved it. was at the premier of get carter and saw all the cast.

  3. Hi Anon,

    Oh, that's great. Thanks so much for posting. I have so many wonderful memories of the Haymarket as it was such a fantastic cinema.