Friday, 21 July 2017

The Salford Cinema, ...... from place of worship in 1846 to a picture house in 1912 and now home again to a religious group

The Salford Cinema, 2009
Never one to hide my mistakes the story now begins with a correction from Martin who writes, "The "Rex" was not the Chapel Street Independent Chapel. 

The Independent Chapel is the one shown in the old map on the corner of Chapel Street and Lamb Court and is still open as a Chapel Street and Hope United Reformed Church.

I'm afraid you have your churches mixed up!"

But rather than pull the story I shall leave it sitting here until I can fully correct my mistake.  So dear reader read on and be aware!

This is Salford Cinema which was opened in 1912 and closed for business in 1958, only to reopen as a Bingo Hall nine years later before finally closing its doors for good in 1976.

Many will remember it  as the Rex which was the name it was given in 1938 after it had been bought for a second time.

Like many of our picture houses which were built in the first few decades of the last century it couldn’t compete with the television and after years of laying empty was turned to other uses.

All of which is better than becoming a car park for at least we can still admire the building even if we can’t watch a film inside.

But the Salford/Rex holds a real history, because although it was opened in 1912 as a cinema the building dates back to 1846, and its use has come full circle, because it started life as the Chapel Street Chapel, (Independent).

Chapel Street Chapel, 1846
It’s there on the OS map for 1846 and looks to be an impressive place, but sadly did not make it into The Stranger’s Guide to Manchester which contained “information on every subject interesting to residents or strangers,” which was compiled by H G Duffield in 1850.

Here can be found detailed description of the leading buildings of the twin cities, but all he gives our chapel is one line in the listings for “Independent Chapels,” as “Chapel-street, Salford.”

Something of its previous history can be seen by walking down St Stephen’s Street to its junction with Browning Street where you can see the original stone and a blocked up chapel window.

And for those who want more I would direct you to, Salford Cinema, http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/outside/SALFORD/salfordcinema.html

Picture; of the Salford Cinema from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and detail of the Chapel from the OS of Manchester & Salford, 1842-44, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/

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