Heart of the City 2 prompts memories of popular cinema in Sheffield

It was one of Sheffield's biggest cinemas, where film fans queued down the street to see blockbusters such as Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 2:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 3:13 pm

Now the old Gaumont cinema site off Barker's Pool will become a key focus of Sheffield's Heart of the City 2 - the retail, office and leisure development.

The project, described as ‘longstanding and ambitious’ by Sheffield Council, was given the green light in March 2018 and will be rolled out in phases.

Block A is in two parts - the block fronting onto Pinstone Street with shops at the ground floor and offices above, known as Palatine Chambers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sheffield Regent Gaumont Odeon Cinema 4 Nov 1985 (3).jpgss

The second block is the old Odeon building, with ground floor retail and the former nightclub/cinema above, which replaced the Gaumont cinema in the late 1980s.

The initial business case had a budget of £4.3 million for architect designs which show a hotel and performance space with fewer shops. Now the council is hoping block A will move into its construction phase.

It should create about 65 jobs during construction and 757 in operation.

Officers say it will improve the appearance of the buildings so they sit better within their prominent position and the ‘upper class’ hotel will have 150 rooms

Odeon Cinema Barkers Pool opening - The Bar area - 19 August 1987

In a report, officers say: “The current appearance of the buildings is a barrier to regeneration of the area. If works are not undertaken now, the city centre could decline further and public opinion would be damaged.

“This will bring back into use vacant units and contribute to the city centre retail, hotel and entertainment offer

“It will bring Sheffield‘s hotel offer in line with comparable cities and improve the attractiveness of the city centre as a place to stay, shop, live and work.”

As we download films in seconds to our TVs and mobiles, it seems incredible that people would queue down the street to watch a movie.

Barker's Pool - Odeon cinema redevelopment 30th May 1986

But films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET were such massive hits, people would stand in a line at the Gaumont that snaked all the way around Barker's Pool.

There was no pre-booking, if you were lucky enough to get a ticket and get inside, you then had a scramble to get seats with your mates.

You could choose between the smoking or non-smoking section - not that it made much difference as there would be a nicotine fog above everyone.

Then it was time for adverts that were repeated so often they are burnt into our memory, a break for popcorn and the main event. One of the Gaumont's screens had more than 1,000 seats - almost a concert-like atmosphere.

Odeon Cinema, Barker's Pool complex c1987

The Gaumont was originally the Regent Theatre and opened on Boxing Day in 1927. It had full stage facilities, a Wurlitzer theatre organ and 150-seat cafe.

In July 1946, it was renamed Gaumont Theatre and played host to major artists including The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

By 1969, all the original decoration was removed and it reopened as the Gaumont cinema.

The cinema closed in November 1985.

The building was demolished and replaced by shops, offices and a new two-screen Odeon cinema, which later become Embrace nightlcub.

A message from the Editor:

Barker's Pool - later the Regent Cinema site Gaumont Odeon

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to The Star website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Embrace nightclub