The Kingsway Cinema

The opening advertisement. (Scan from newspaper.)
Site of Kingsway Cinema

The Kingsway cinema opened in London Road on 27th April 1936, with 1,404 seats in a stadium-style auditorium (with no balcony).
There was a café and a free car park. The proprietor was Mrs Stanton-Rolls, who ran a building company based in Prittlewell.
However, the cinema was leased to, and run by, the ABC circuit, and, later on, it became known as the ABC Kingsway.
Peggy Weber, at just 18 years of age, is thought to have been the youngest cinema organist in the country.
The Kingsway closed in December 1970, but the Compton organ survived. After being installed at Rochford Hospital, in the mid-1990s it was relocated to the Red Brick Barn, at Charles Tabor’s Sutton Hall Farm, Shoplands.

Morrison’s (enlarged) store currently (March 2022) stands on the site of the cinema.

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  • Back in the ’60s Saturday Morning Pictures was a treat at Hadleigh Kingsway and it cost just 6d. The manager, Gus Keeling, loved all the children so much, after the performance he would see the five, six and seven year olds safely across the busy A13 main road. His efforts were often thwarted, however, as some of the children used to wait on the other side so they could be brought back again the next time he crossed, just for the experience of winding up a kindly old man trying to help children who were always game for a laugh at anyone’s cost.
    For me, the films I liked most were The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy and Zorro. There were always at least two films shown and occasionally three.

    By Ian Davidson (28/06/2020)
  • Having just moved back to the area after moving away in 1969 some things are still recognisable. I was remembering the dances at Kingsway Hadleigh in late 60s attended by me and my then girl friend, who was to become my wife.  Four of us used to travel from Rayleigh to Hadleigh. The dances were ‘Dry’ – only soft drinks being available to dancers, but it was the 60s and so the music was therefore very good.
    After a while dancing the lads would leave their girl friends dancing with each other while they popped out to the Crown Pub, just opposite the Kingsway, where they would have a couple of pints of beer before going back into the dance and music.
    Happy times, sad to see the Crown as it is now.

    By Alan Pressick (18/01/2020)
  • Along with all the other commentators, used to pay sixpence to sit upstairs for Saturday morning pictures. Watching the Three Stooges, The Bowery Boys and lots more and afterwards we would go to Tysons fish shop for an eight penny piece of fish and four pennyworth of chips. Gus Keeling, the manager, knew most local kids as he lived in Castle Rd. Ronnie Monk, previously mentioned, sold newspapers at the bus stop outside the Crown Pub before the one-way system was established. Sadly the films ABC were showing didn’t seem very popular and after various attempts to entertain people from wrestling to variety the place was doomed to closure.

    By Rob Keen (02/08/2019)
  • I was also an ABC minor and went Saturday mornings. We owned the Crown Cafe opposite.
    The fair used to come yearly if I recall too, near by, I remember listening out my bedroom window to many songs.
    Later I watched many live bands there as a teenager, including The Who. Happy times. Sad all these lovely old buildings are long gone with boring modern ones in place.

    By Mrs Clark née Couling (24/07/2019)
  • I remember Saturday morning pictures at the Kingsway, I lived in the old High Street, opposite the fire station, not 100 meters away.
    Then in the 60s they had wrestling on Friday or Wednesday nights, later bingo.
    The demolition waste from the old cinema was used as a base for new covered barns on the Salvation Army, Sayers dairy farm at the bottom of Chapel Lane.

    By Philip Chapman (22/12/2018)
  • Yes – Gus was the Manager’s name – in the mid 1950s we used to sing the ABC Minors song with gusto – only 4 of the naked “cleaners lights” were on during the commencement, interval, and the end of the session. In by 9.00am – out by 12 noon and then across the road to the “chippy” or as it was known “The Fish Cafe” – what a life for an 8 year old and travelling without parents or siblings on the bus (Westcliff, Eastern National or Campbell’s) from the top of Thundersley, Hart Road/Kiln Road to Hadleigh Broadway and back from Hadleigh Church.

    By Richard Hayden (15/12/2018)
  • Roger Shinn made the following comment:
    Reading about the Kingsway cinema reminded me of a night watching The Dam Busters with my wife then girlfriend in the stalls. When the film finished we tried to get up and there was local lad, Ronnie Monk, laying under our seats. I said “Ronnie where did you come from ?” He shook his head and shouted “the balcony.”

    By Terry B (13/12/2018)
  • The Manager’s name was Gus Keeling.
    I would arrive via the No 1 bus from Hart Road on Saturday aged 9 on my own.
    Not the done thing today!

    By Charles Summers. (06/11/2018)
  • I remember the ABC minors on a Saturday morning with very fond memories. Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger and Tonto and a host of other film stars which now alas, I can no longer recall.
    I do remember that Coco the Clown visited the Kingsway and I was fortunate enough to be there. In one way I was amazed but also a bit frightened. After all, clowns do have a dark history.
    I also remember going on a coach trip to a zoo but sorry to say I have no idea where it was.
    In those days (1950s) that was the only way most of us got to see the outside world.

    By Alan Emery (01/11/2018)
  • I was an ABC minor back in the 1950s; sixpence on a Saturday
    morning. I do believe the manager at the time was called Gus
    and looked a bit like Arthur Askey.
    It was a long time ago so I could be wrong with the name.
    Great days, Woody Woodpecker, Flash Gordon and many more.

    By Michael Harding (30/10/2018)

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