There are some grand plans for the former cinema in Ashton, which will be known as ‘The Metro Majestic’. The building has been bought by a consortium, from Monopoly Events and include actor Zach Galligan and saxophonist Tim Cappello. They plan to show classic and new films as well as live entertainment. A World War two themed café is planned for upstairs. After such a long period of closure there will have to be a massive renovation which will take around 2 years.

 The Majestic cinema on Old St opened on 22nd April 1920 belonging to Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Ltd of London. The building was only just ready in time for the grand opening by the mayor. The first film show was ‘The Forbidden City’ starring Norma Talmadge, followed by a comedy and then the Pathe Gazette. The music was perfectly synchronised on the organ by David Clegg and an orchestra.

 The cinema changed its name to the Gaumont on 12 July 1946, now owned by the Gaumont British Cinema. The first film that week was ‘Tomorrow is Forever’ starring Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles. There was a daily matinee at 2pm, an evening showings from 6pm, Saturdays there was continual showings from 2pm. They also had an additional film on Sundays.

The name changed again to The Odeon on 11 November 1962, taken over by The Top Rank Entertainment group. Children had their own Saturday morning cinema at 10.30 with a serial like ‘The Last Rhino’ and ‘Burning Arrows’, tickets were 6d and 9d. For the adults Joan Collins and Robert Wagner were starring in ‘Stopover Tokyo’. They still showed an information film now called ‘Look at Life’, the theme in November was The Common Market.

 The Odeon lasted until 31st October 1981 when Rank Organisation closed several cinemas in Greater Manchester. The last film was Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was then bought by John Downs who also owned The Palace and Cosmo Bingo and Social club in Stalybridge. He changed the name to The Metro and made various improvements, a reduction in tickets price was one of them. During 1982 the circle was completely re-designed and decorated with luxury Pullman and Viceroy seats fitted in the front circle. A stage and dressing rooms were added so that the cinema could be used for live entertainment. The first band to appear was the American group ‘Fat Larry’s Band’. A bar was constructed in the circle foyer and the screen enlarged to 12 x 6 metre to show 70mm film.

You can read more about the Metro Cinema and many others in Ashton in Philip and David Williams book ‘Flickering Memories’ which is available from Tameside Local Studies & Archive Centre for £3.

Some images courtesy P&D Williams HOYD