Webpage created: May 10, 2020
Webpage updated: May 10, 2020
Plymouth's only new post-War cinema was the 1,644-seat Drake Cinema at Derry's Cross.
It was quite an imposing building, with its large model of the "Golden Hind" over the entrance. It was the first of the 20th Century Fox Film Company's cinemas to be erected in Europe but the intended chain of cinemas was never built.
Designed by Leonard Allen FIAA and constructed by A N Coles (Contractors) Limited, the Drake was opened by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman George Wingett, on June 5th 1958. The special programme shown on its 66 x 27ft screen comprised the Movietone News film "Plymouth Story" followed by the charity premier of "South Pacific". Jackie Collins and Richard Todd made guest appearances and even the Royal Marine Band took part in the proceedings. Mr Peter Bland was the cinema's first manager.
Pat Boone & Shirley Jones in "April Love" headed the first full programme, which also included "Thundering Jets" and "Plymouth Story". Admission prices were 4s & 5s for the circle, 2s & 3s for the stalls. "South Pacific" returned on July 17th and stayed for a momentous six months, breaking the previous local record set by "Gone with the Wind" in 1941, which had stayed at the ABC Royal for a mere three weeks.
The Drake Cinema closed after the performances on Saturday March 1st 1975 for conversion into the Drake Film Centre.