We begin our look at Northwich cinemas with a little-known cinema which was located at the junction of Waterloo Road and Castle Street.

In 1918, a report in a local newspaper stated if the building was set back from the road, then the council would grant permission for it to be used as a cinema theatre.

The owners at the time were Mr Gorst and Mr Jackson. The cinema opened to present silent films and live performances in 1919.

In 1922, new owners from the Macclesfield Super Cinema purchased both the Castle Cinema and the Palace in Winsford.

Through the 1920s, the manager of the Castle cinema was Tom Sherlock, known as the “Singing Manager” as he had been a professional vocalist and regularly performed each night to the cinema audience.

Knutsford Guardian: Castle Cinema in 1927Castle Cinema in 1927 (Image: Rose Hurley)

Advertising hoardings could be found along the Manchester to Chester toll road (now A556), as can be seen in the photo.

The manager became very popular in the local area, and children used to call him ‘Uncle Tom’.

In 1926, Mr Sherlock arranged for his cameraman to accompany 2,500 Brunner Mond workers on a trip to Blackpool to record the outing, and many visited the Castle cinema to watch themselves on film afterwards.

In 1927, the directors who owned the cinema paid a visit to Tom in Northwich when tragedy struck, and one of them, Rowland Greaves Hibbert, aged just 32, died whilst residing overnight at the Crown and Anchor Hotel.

Knutsford Guardian: The Pavilion cinema and theatreThe Pavilion cinema and theatre (Image: Rose Hurley)

The Castle Cinema was offered for auction in 1930, and by 1932, it was under the management of W Gordon Smith, who was also the manager at the Macclesfield Super Cinema.

It was decorated inside and out and had new simplex projectors and RCA apparatus installed.

By 1946, the council was considering using the now-former cinema as a Little Theatre, although it is unclear whether this went ahead.

In 1982, it was reported that the “oldest picture house in mid-Cheshire” was to be demolished as it was crumbling and had become unsafe and structurally unsound. It was stated that the last film shown was in 1947.

A cinema called the Central Palace existed for a short time but was destroyed by fire in 1940, and the manager moved to the Pavilion.

Knutsford Guardian: The PlazaThe Plaza (Image: Rose Hurley)

More well-known cinemas were the Plaza and the Pavilion. The Pavilion was a 1,000-seater cinema/theatre that opened in 1910 and, by 1925, was operated by Cheshire County Cinemas.

It was in Hayhurst Street and initially owned by Messrs Hamilton and Hughes of Widnes and Runcorn. It had closed by 1958.

The Plaza in Witton Street opened in 1928, and some of its features remain today.

In the 1960s, it was re-used as a bingo hall until it lost its popularity, and the Plaza closed its doors in 2011.

Over the next few years, it was used for one-off events until 2021, when work commenced to make it a full-time event space.

The final cinema is the Regal, which was on London Road where Waitrose now stands. It was opened in 1939 with a seating capacity of 1,100.

Knutsford Guardian: The Regal cinemaThe Regal cinema (Image: Rose Hurley)

The first manager was Mr Walker, who had transferred from the Plaza. The building was erected on a raft so that it could be jacked up if there was any sign of subsidence.

In 1973, the Regal expanded, with Regal 2 being added with an additional capacity of 200.

The last film shown in Regal 1 was Grease, and Regal 2 showed Night at the Museum.

It finally closed in 2007, its contents were auctioned off, and it was demolished in 2013.

Knutsford Guardian: Inside the RegalInside the Regal (Image: Rose Hurley)

Some of the seats went to furnish The Regalette mini cinema in the Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse in Northwich, named as a tribute to The Regal. It is used for talks, presentations and films.

On a more positive note, the riverside in Northwich was transformed when Barons Quay was built, and the popular and modern Odeon Cinema with five screens was located there and opened in 2016.