to 1 November
to 4 January
The Plaza first opened its doors to the public on 7th October 1932, with a charity show for Stockport Infirmary. The films shown were “Jailbird”, starring Laurel and Hardy, and “Out of the Blue” with Gene Gerrard and Jessie Matthews. Ticket prices ranged from 7d (3p) to 2/- (10p). Built at this time, The Plaza stood on the cusp between silent movies and the talkies; it looked both backwards and forwards. It also created a luxurious escape for people accustomed to the hard life of a Northern industrial town.
The Plaza began a programme of entertainment never seen before in Stockport with a mix of cinema and live performance. Shows included a silent newsreel, accompanied by The Plaza orchestra, featuring the Compton organ played by resident organist, Mr Cecil Chadwick.
The history of The Plaza is not without controversy. The Stockport Advertiser rallied against the new theatre, denouncing it as a bad influence on the town’s youth and complaining that it had been constructed by “outside labourers”, at the height of The Depression. Local newspapers initially refused to take The Plaza adverts.
As the pace of social change started to accelerate, the heyday of The Super Cinema and Variety Theatre was brief. By the mid 1930’s, cine-variety had ended and The Plaza shows assumed the familiar pattern of one feature film and a supporting “B” movie. By 1939, the success of The Plaza had provoked competition and there were two more Super Cinemas in Stockport’s town centre and two in the suburbs.
During the war, the town’s cinemas remained popular with many residents taking the view that The Plaza, being cut into a rock face, was one of the safest places to be during an air raid. The opening brochure had, in fact, boasted that nothing short of an earthquake could disturb the building.
The Plaza was refurbished in the 1950’s and continued to prosper in spite of the national decline in audiences. The 1953 Coronation proved a watershed in the acquisition of television sets and this, combined with the growth of other social pursuits, sealed the fate of many cinemas. By the late 1950’s, some Super Cinemas, barely 20 years old, were closing their doors and some were demolished.
However, the Plaza could cater for Cinemascope and 3-D and many stars made personal appearances to promote their films. The Plaza was also a hit with younger audiences and had its own Saturday children’s club, showing cartoons such as Flash Gordon and Zorro. Live entertainment took place on Saturday evenings featuring local musicians and Sunday jazz concerts followed. In 1960, the Plaza staged its first pantomime with the Dallas Boys in “Babes In The Wood”.
In 1965 the Plaza was sold to the Mecca Leisure Group for conversion to a Bingo hall. The switch to bingo was fought by Stockport Council but Mecca appealed to the Government and won their case. The Plaza's final show was on 31st December 1966 and featured Jerry Lee Lewis in “Three on a Coach” and Audie Murphy in “The Texican” and William Starr at the organ. Rank Leisure sold the Plaza to Stockport Plaza Trust in March 2000 and, after massive community and volunteer effort, audiences took their seats for the opening show on 7th October 2000.
First Planning application made to Stockport Borough Council for the construction of a Cinema to be called the Regal, Mersey Square, Stockport.
Construction of the Regal Cinema, Altrincham, executed by William Thornley from original designs by Drury and Gomersall for the Snape Cinema Circuit.
Stockport Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre opens in Stockport
Seven day programme introduced (same film for 7 days), a first for Stockport
Large 48ft.x 18ft. projection screen installed
Stockport’s first 3D film presentation screened - “Sangaree”
First ‘Cinemascope’ presentation
The Plaza sold by the Snape Circuit and purchased by the Mecca Group
The Plaza closes as a cinema with the films 'Three on a Couch' starring Jerry Lewis and 'The Texican' with Audie Murphy and William Star at the organ
Modifications to the auditorium to accommodate bingo; removal of roof tiling, loss of external verandah, neon lighting & signage. Flat floor insertion at rear of stalls, and alterations to foyer. Alterations to café area.
The Plaza reopens as Mecca Bingo
The Plaza is listed grade II by English Heritage
Cinema closes as a Bingo Hall with a commemorative concert
Venue listing upgraded to II* by English Heritage
The Plaza is purchased by the Stockport Plaza Trust
Queens Award for Voluntary Service awarded to the Plaza
The Plaza trust commences restoration plans
The Heritage Lottery Fund approves a Stage 1 application for funding of £1.9m towards Phase 1 of the restoration of the Plaza
Jimmy Carr officially closes the Plaza with two sell out shows and work begins on Restoration and Refurbishment of the Stockport Plaza
'Plaza on Tour' commences - a host of events in alternative venues throughout the region during the Plaza's closure
The Plaza reopens following a £3.2 million restoration
10 Years On Show featuring Plaza Volunteers and Youth, Joe Loss Orchestra and local talent staged to celebrate 10 Years on the saving of the Plaza.
Digital Projector is installed at the Plaza