Historical cinema frieze displayed in Doncaster’s Civic and Cultural Quarter

A 10 metre wide stone frieze from the former Doncaster Gaumont Cinema has been restored and displayed in Sir Nigel Gresley Square.

The frieze, was created by sculptor Newbury Abbot Trent in 1934 and used to be located on the front of the Gaumont Cinema, which stood at the top of Hallgate in Doncaster’s town centre.

The frieze depicts the story of making a film for the big screen, from the writing of the story, to the building of the sets, and lastly the shooting of the film.

Newbury A Trent produced a number of friezes for cinemas but it is believed the Doncaster Gaumont frieze is the last remaining example of his work.

Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “It is fitting that we have found a new home for a piece of art that many people will remember so fondly. We have carefully restored the wonderful stone sculpture and given it prime billing outside our new Savoy cinema and leisure complex and CAST theatre.

“Locating it close to its original home in our Civic and Cultural Quarter where we have Danum Gallery, Library and Museum which showcases the frontage of the former Doncaster High School for Girls was always the right choice to display this fascinating exhibit.

“It is important we preserve and cherish Doncaster’s rich heritage for our future generations. People can get up close to the artwork to see the detail and appreciate its cinematic history significance.”

The Gaumont Cinema in Doncaster was opened in 1934. Designed by W.E. Trent and W. Sydney Trent, the cinema was originally known as the Gaumont Palace Theatre. The building was created in the Art Deco style, and housed an auditorium that could hold over 2,000 people.

During the 1960s, the Gaumont staged many ‘pop’ concerts, including appearances by Buddy Holly, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

The building was modernised in 1968, with aluminum cladding attached to the front, hiding the frieze from public view. The frieze was finally revealed during demolition of the cinema in 2008, at which time it was removed and put into storage.

Ron Curry MBE and Graham Warrender were both instrumental in saving the frieze which the council has now renovated and turned into a piece of art for people to enjoy.

Graham Warrender, said: “I am so pleased to have been involved with, Ron Curry M.B.E, in helping to save this unique example of Doncaster’s 120 year cinema history. To see the Gaumont frieze cleaned, repaired and displayed in such a prominent and relevant position, adjacent to the cinema in Sir Nigel Gresley Square, makes me very proud.

“My thanks go to The Victoria Cross Trust  and their Eco-Restoration  system for the cleaning of the frieze, Peter Moore for the stone dentistry repair to it, Campbell Design and Engineering for the design and engineering work of the frame, and to CB Arts Ltd for designing and producing the narrative plaque and stand. I must also thank Doncaster Council for their support in funding the project.”

The frieze faces towards CAST Theatre. On the back of the frame is steel plating with large lettering reading: The Gaumont Cinema. A narrative plaque will be located near the frieze to explain what it all means.

The council commissioned Campbell Design and Engineering to carry out the design and engineering work and Peter Moore for the stone dentistry to repair the frieze. The narrative plaque and stand was designed and produced by CB Arts Ltd.

For more information: www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk/projects/gaumont-frieze/ 

The history of Doncaster’s cinemas can be found at: www.letsgotothepictures.uk 


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