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Aberdeen Cinemas: Astoria
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Astoria

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Aberdeen Cinemas: Astoria
Historic Photographs
Aberdeen Cinemas: Astoria
An Aberdeen Journals Archive photograph of the Astoria in around 1943. This super-cinema in Kittybrewster was opened in 1934 and was located at the end of Powis Terrace, at the start of Clifton Road and at its junction with Great Northern Road. This photograph looks towards Clifton Road from this location.

The film being shown at the time is Air Force with John Garfield. The premises of Birrell, confectioners, and George A. Davidson, provision merchant, can also be seen in the image.

Michael Thomson in Silver Screen in the Silver City (1988) tells the story of the cinema. The Astoria was primarily the brainchild of Bert Darley who had quit Poole's, proprietors of the Palace and Regent, and started up a new company called the Aberdeen Astoria Cinema Ltd. with various local businessmen and financial backers.

The giant cinema, designed by Thomas Scott Sutherland, was intended to serve the growing population of Kittybrewster, Powis, Woodside and Hilton. Construction on the £45,000 building proceeded quickly and it was opened on 8th December 1934 with screenings of a film called I Give My Love.

Thomson states that the Astoria's emphasis was on "spaciousness, relying upon simplicity of form to create a pleasing impression of clean-lined functionality." The space of the site allowed Scott Sutherland to enlarge on ideas first used at the Regent. The concept was again a tall central section, incorporating three main windows, with smaller side portions on either side.

The Astoria, along with the Capitol, was one of only two Aberdeen cinemas with a theatre organ. Both were equipped with top-of-the-line Compton organs at the time of their opening.

In March 1936 James F. Donald (Aberdeen Cinemas) Ltd. acquired a controlling share interest in the Aberdeen Astoria Cinema company. Richard Donald replaced Bert Darley as the manager at the Kittybrewster venue.

The programmes of the Astoria and the Kingsway on King Street were regularly linked, both being Donald cinemas. In the 1950s they showed Cinemascope films such as King of the Khyber Rifles and Beneath the Ten Mile Reef.

The cinema's last film was The Moving Target, with Paul Newman and Lauren Becall, shown on 13th August 1966. On the 29th of that month the venue reopened as a bingo hall. This was at the height of the game's popularity, however not even it could save the Astoria. At the end of the year the Donalds the site for redevelopment as a shopping complex. Demolition on the cinema was begun in April 1967.

Michael Thomson explains that all removable fittings and materials were salvaged. Additionally, the Compton organ was transferred to the school hall of Powis Academy. It served the school well for many years before unfortunately being destroyed in a fire during the night of 20th November 1982.

[Information primarily sourced from Silver Screen in the Silver City (1988) by Michael Thomson]

Image © Aberdeen Journals Ltd.
Powis Terrace
2. Copyright known - held by third party
Astoria xxxx-00-00 (C)AJL
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