Were you there for the launch of this Hartlepool attraction?

A Mexican wave went down well with cinema goers at the opening of the multiplex.
A Mexican wave went down well with cinema goers at the opening of the multiplex.

It’s coming up for 20 years since Hartlepool’s multiplex cinema opened.

A thousand people braved the rain to turn up for the opening day and no-one was more fascinated than the man who got to switch on the first film in March 1999.

Cliff Reynolds takes a look at a film with Warner Cinema manager Attiq Rehman.

Cliff Reynolds takes a look at a film with Warner Cinema manager Attiq Rehman.

Cliff Reynolds was a former film projectionist himself and ran the Royal Electric Theatre in Hartlepool after his father Bill’s death in 1951.

The state-of-the-art projectors and sound systems in the new seven-screen super cinema were a far cry to the Lex, as it became affectionately known, which had only one screen and 742 seats.

By 1999, Cliff was running a marine store and garage on the same site in Whitby Street but he was keen to share his memories at the time.

“They were all single-screen cinemas at the time,” he said.

It was fine. We had over 1,000 people through the door even though the weather was against us. It is the best thing to happen to the town for years.

Attiq Rehman

“And they were all packed even though there were 11 or 12 of them.”

Cliff was the third generation of his family to be involved in the movie business and it all began in the 1920s.

William Henry Reynolds was one of the people who put money into the Royal Electric Theatre and ran the Lex into the 1930s. That was back in the days of the silent movie when the sound which accompanied the picture came from a pianist.

Cliff’s father Bill was next to go into the industry and he was the projectionist.

But Cliff wasn’t the only town resident who got to enjoy those early days of the multiplex.

Hundreds of schoolchildren from Hartlepool got to see the place for the first time when a family fun day was held and special preview screenings were given.

Top films were shown for invited guests and the younger generation got to enjoy the launch of a Saturday Kids Club.

What do you remember of the occasion and can you tell us more?

We would love to hear from you.

And here’s a quiz question for you. Which were the 11 places in Hartlepool which were showing films at the height of the movie industry’s popularity in the 1940s.

There was The Regal, ABC, The Odeon, The Forum, The Picture House, The Lex, Northerns, West End, Gaiety, The Paladium, and Queens.

And there was also the Empire Theatre which showed films from time to time.

But back in 1999, the multiplex manager Attiq Rehman was encouraged by the turnout on the opening day despite the rain.

He said at the time: “It was fine. We had over 1,000 people through the door even though the weather was against us.”

He said the feedback from customers was “it is the best thing to happen to the town for years.

“We enjoyed quite a good start and we were very pleased at how smoothly it went.”

Remember the occasion? Or is there another part of Hartlepool’s past you would like to reflect on?

Email chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk. Let’s share the memories.