The Embassy/Palladium/Classic, Fisherman's Walk, Southbourne

Opened in 1919, the first advertisement in the Bournemouth Echo was for the 6th, 7th and 8th October of that year. The programme consisted of the main feature 'Ordeal of Rosetta' plus part one of 'Adventure Among The Cannibals'. The proprietor and manager was Mr J Newbury with the orchestra under the direction of Mr T E Denny. A featured comedian Sydney Drew also put in an appearance. The Embassy billed itself as 'the finest ventilated hall in the provinces'.

The picture above was taken when the Palladium was showing a 1932 picture from First National, 'The Honourable Mr Wong' starring J Carroll Naish and Loretta Young. Interesting that even in those days there were reduced prices for admission to matinees. Note the small sweet shop to the right of the entrance the Continental had one as well, forerunners of today's multiplex foyer offerings.

Tuesday 29th June 1948 was the last day of film presentation under the Palladium banner. The programme consisted of the Gainsborough picture 'The Root of All Evil' starring Phyllis Calvert and Michael Rennie with supporting feature 'Strange Conquest' starring Jane Wyatt and Julie Bishop. In the Daily Echo of Wednesday 30th. the name had changed to Embassy (formerly Palladium) and 'A grand offering in Technicolor' was promised. This was 'Desert Fury' starring Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott with supporting feature 'Hot Cargo' starring William Gargan and Jean Rogers.

The Embassy closed again from Monday March 22nd 1954 for alterations and decorations. One can surmise that this involved the installation of Cinemascope and that by 1954 wartime building restrictions had come to an end so renovation was possible. The Daily Echo contained brief details: 'Reopening shortly with new and original policy…….Full attractive details later'.

When it did reopen it had been renamed Classic. London and Provincial News Theatres who operated the nationwide Classic chain, liked this not one bit and legal proceedings began. In the end it was settled that the theatre should always be known as Harry Mears Classic. Don't forget that the Plaza in Winton had been redecorated and renamed the Continental, the year before. So we now had Harry Mears Continental and Harry Mears Classic, presumably the names were meant to show the type of films to be shown in each venue.

All booking for the Classic was done at the Continental, as the rental agreement shown below indicates.

The Lady Killers was a 1955 Ealing Studios release and a popular one. Seems strange now that you could get a cinema audience for a three year old film but then it is a classic.

Showdown at Abilene was a 1956 release starring Jock Mahoney, Martha Hyer and David Janssen among others. Jock Mahoney wasn't he 'Range Rider' in the good old days of black and white Children's Hour? Alternating with 'The Lone Ranger' and 'The Cisco Kid'.

The Classic's projection equipment at closure consisted of Kalee 11 machines on Western Electric Universal bases.

The cinema closed on 1st October 1960 with the John Mills film 'Town On Trial' that had originally been released in 1957. The supporting feature was 'The Burglar' starring Dan Duryea and Jane Mansfield. This film was also released in 1957. It was probably hoped that the Classic's audience would relocate to the nearby Astoria in Pokesdown a much bigger hall than the Classic in which Harry Mears also had a financial interest.

The cinema was demolished and presently the site is occupied by a supermarket.

All text and pictures in this article copyright John Thornley, Bob Dobson and others where credited.

Bournemouth Cinemas

The Continental Cinema, Winton

The Picture House/Savoy, Boscombe

The Ritz Cinema, Winton

The Astoria, Pokesdown

The Embassy/Palladium/ Classic, Fisherman's Walk, Southbourne

THE Roxy, Holdenhurst Road, Springbourne

The Regal, Parkstone