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ABC Cinema, Dover in 1964...

On 17th March 1964 and 14th April 1964 two fantastic package tours passed through Dover, Kent to play at the ABC Cinema in Castle Street, Dover. The package tour of the 1950's and 1960's consisted of several bands and artists travelling the country and often playing two shows per venue. In early 1964, the ABC Dover hosted two shows that included some of the greatest names in British pop music and Gary was lucky enough to have been present at both shows.

He recalls: - "It seems almost unbelievable now but i hit the age of five in December 1963 and my mum took me to both of the above mentioned shows at the ABC in Dover the following March and April. The first show with Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas, Gene Pitney, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Cilla Black, Remo Four, The Escorts and Billy Burden i can only vaguely remember. But the second show on 14th April 1964 i remember quite vividly. The stage curtains opening and closing, another band on the stage, sharp, vivid suits, probably each artist playing for around 20-25 minutes and the screaming!! The show was compared by a Canadian comedian named Frank Berry. Mark Wynter was a big star at the time with several hit records. The Mojos were from Liverpool and there were The Trebletones with Johnny Wiltshire. The curtains opened and The Kinks were on stage. Sharp, pink jackets and puffy shirts , black trousers and winklepicker boots. The place erupted and i sat there with mum, eyes wide open as girls were fainting and being carried out of the theatre by security, slung over their shoulders 'fireman style' . I remember the girls were taken through the door to the right of the stage and i remember thinking it must be hell in there!! The Kinks had recently reached number 42 in the UK charts with a version of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally but their classic song You Really Got Me would not be released until later in the year. The Hollies came and went. A great band with some decent songs and wonderful harmonies. Then the highlight of the night - The Dave Clark Five. My favourite band of the time and the band my schoolmates and myself would imitate on a stage-type wall at our primary school on Melbourne Avenue. The curtains opened and there they were. The drums, sax, keyboards and guitar crashed out from the stage and the place erupted again. The classic stomping beat of the Dave Clark Five rang around the theatre as they belted out their recent number two hit Bit and Pieces and their number one song Glad All Over. They brought the house down. Through the years, every time i visited the ABC in Dover , either to watch a movie or later on when it became a nightclub i could never forget those two shows. Unfortunately, the building is no more. The town has lost another great landmark but the great memories remain"

The Granada Theatre was the first cinema built for and operated by the Granada Theatres chain of cinemas, opening on 8th January 1930 with a seating capacity of 1,717. The opening film was “The Last of Mrs Cheyney” starring Norma Shearer. The architect was Cecil Masey with Granada Theatres favoured interior designer Theodore Komisarjevsky responsible for the decorations, this theatre being his first full project.

The foyer was built in an 18th Century French style with marble staircase leading to the circle with chandeliers and Venetian mirrors. The auditorium had a Spanish Moorish theme and was very ornate. The Granada Theatre had a full working stage, a 35 feet wide proscenium and a Christie 3Manual 7Ranks organ with a lift in the orchestra pit. On 19th June 1935, Granada Theatres sold the cinema to the Associated British Cinemas(ABC) chain, but it was not renamed ABC until April 1960, and was forever known to local people as the Granada. The Christie organ was removed in 1960, being bought later by an organ enthusiast.

With the decline in film going in 1970 it was modernised into a ‘Luxury Lounge’ cinema using only the stalls area with 610 seats, closing off the circle, reopening on 6th July 1970. The ABC closed as a cinema on 30th October 1982 and was converted into ‘Images’ Night Club. This too closed and in 2007 the building was bought by the Wetherspoon’s chain for conversion into a pub, but 12 months on in 2008, refurbishments had not commenced.

In August 2014, demolition had begun, by first removing the roof of the building. Demolition was completed on October 7, 2014.

The Dave Clark Five

Granada/ABC Dover, Kent


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