Essoldo Cinema

Photo:Essoldo Cinema, Brighton.

Essoldo Cinema, Brighton.

A prestigious place

by Martin Nimmo

The Essoldo was much larger and more prestigious, and it was there that all Brighton primary age children (at least) were taken by bus or coach to see "The Flight of the White Heron" in 1954, which was a colour record of the Queen's Commonwealth Tour, taken shortly after her Coronation.

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
For many years it looked a bit shabby, and it was Hotshots for a while, but the front of the cinema was in a style of its own. The brickwork decoration and the finished jointing cannot be built again. It was a building, like so many in Brighton, that could have been saved - even the front. What have we now? Trash!
By Andy B (16/02/2003)
My main memory of the Essoldo is a live theatre performance of 'Romeo and Juliet' by a major theatre company. I seem to remember that Peggy Mount played the nurse. We went on a school trip to this and so, it seems, did the entire secondary school population of Brighton and Hove. Quite a restless audience, as I recall! But it was my first experience of 'live' Shakespeare, and as I'm now an English teacher, it must have made some impression. This would have been about 1960, I imagine. I think this was the first time I went to the Essoldo and I was very impressed by the size of it. Sad to know it's no longer there.
By Carol deRose (27/02/2003)
Late 50s; Sunday afternoons; the Essoldo cinema showing B-picture horror movies. A gang from the 'Whisky-a-Go-Go' climb what seemed like hundreds of stairs to the gods and looked down at a screen miniaturised by distance. Ten Bachelors, a box of matches and all your mates to laugh at the likes of 'It Came from Outer Space' and 'The House on Haunted Hill'. Right tearaways we were!
By Brian Littlechild (06/03/2003)
If my memory serves me correctly it was built and opened as the "IMPERIAL" theatre. The two foundation stones on either side of the entrance were laid by Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn [circa 1938/9]. I remember one stage show I was taken to see starred Lupino Lane. I'm not sure of the title of the show, but it featured the hit song of the time "The Lambeth Walk".
By John Wall (14/03/2004)
I was trying to remember the previous name of the Essoldo and - bingo - John Wall named it. I remember seeing Three Coins in the Fountain there, and Sayonara. When I lived in Brighton there were a dozen cinemas at least, I'm sure, including Hove's. I counted them when I lived there as a child. Anyone recall the Palladium, the Curzon, the Prince's? I can still hear the sound of the bells in The Bells of St. Mary's as I stood outside the Odeon after the film. Now it's torn down? Which cinemas are left?
By Ashlea Simpson (27/10/2004)
I'm interested in cinemas and we had an Essoldo in our village, which my cousin managed. Only a small 700 seater which finished its life as a 'bughut' in 1959. Many happy memories though. The show John Wall saw must have been 'Me and My Gal'
By Nigel Womersley (27/10/2004)
I well remember the Essoldo cinema when it was the Imperial Theatre.I did a short stint there back stage on a couple of shows as an extra scene shifter,helping out my Father just before it became a cinema.As a cinema,two of the films I remember seeing were Walt Disney's "Fantasia" and "Three coins in a fountain", with my long time girlfriend, but like my romance it's time was running out,heading for it's end.But,both still remembered after fifty years

By Peter Pryer (07/03/2005)
I remember a school trip, in the mid 60's, to the Essoldo to see a live performance of Swan Lake, the first and only live ballet performance I've seen.
By Pam Pantzer (20/05/2005)
My memories of the Essoldo Cinema was in the early 6o's when the cinema put on Rock n Roll shows. I saw many of my favorite singers there like Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, and British singers like Billy Fury, Joe Brown etc. Tickets were only 4 shillings and 6 pence.

I also have a memory of performing with a group there called "Black n Tan" around 1964 during the interval of a bingo night.

Great cinema and music venue. Keith Pullen

By Keith Pullen (23/04/2006)
I have a question for the Essoldo historians among you. In the early 1950s the manager of the Essoldo was a gentleman by the name of Mr Tasker. He had two sons, Robin, who became a good friend, and an older brother who's name escapes me. For half a crown Robin would peg the bottom of your trousers (using his mother's sewing machine). I lost touch with Robin after they moved, presumably to another cinema. Would anyone out there remember the Taskers?
By Keith Blunt (16/07/2006)

I can remember seeing stage shows at this great theatre. I saw Gene Vincent performing there- it was fab, also I think Cliff Richards appeared there, had some great films as wel. What ever happened to the ice cream ladies?

By Christopher Moffet (18/01/2011)

It's very interesting to read everyone's memories here. I'm trying to place them in relation to my own memories. Was the Essoldo and, later - in the era that I remember - the Top Rank bingo hall, near the top of North Street, on the right as you approach the clocktower?

By Joe Vw (15/05/2011)

In the 1960s I was a rostrum camaraman for Halas & Batchelor cartoons of London. We made an experimental film containing live action and animation. The title of the film was 'Is there intelligent life on earth' it was first shown at the Essoldo.

By Sid Griffiths (23/06/2011)

Yes, I remember it as the Imperial.  It must have been second in size only to the Regent.  I recall seeing the opera Cavaliera Rusticana there, probably in the 50s.  It had a proper orchestra pit. It was almost opposite the Princes News Theatre. What is it now?

By John Snelling (30/10/2013)

I was a ice cream girl there in the early 60s. Sometimes I had to carry the heavy tray all the way up to the gods. I saw many shows as well.

By Janet Blemings (26/04/2016)

My father Harry was a bingo caller at the Essoldo. I can remember being smuggled in one night and watching the Tornadoes when Telstar had just charted.

By Patrick (18/08/2016)

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