Monday, 8 February 2010

From Bethel to Caxton

The picture of Bethel Primitive Methodist Church (opened in 1859) with its Sunday School on the left (opened 1883) is from the brochure produced for the annual national Primitive Methodist Church Conference held in 1899. The picture of the Caxton Theatre with the Buffs Club on the left is one taken this year.

If it is not instantly obvious that we are looking at the same site, the foundation stone at the bottom right of the Sunday School / Club secures the link, and if you go round the back you can find the same semi-circular window at the top of that part of the building.

The Chapel closed in the 1930s and became a cinema, first the Premier (which burnt down) and then the Plaza (which is the present building, which had a period as a car show room and an electrical retailer before being taken on by the Caxton Players in the 1980s).

A search for ‘Plaza Cinema’ at brings up two pictures which link through the changes. In one of the Premier Cinema, the pediment of the old chapel is still clear above and well behind the front of the cinema on the street. The one of the Plaza Cinema shows the old Sunday School frontage unchanged next door, at that stage being the Enginemen’s Club and Institute.

On page 33 of Janet Tierney’s book of Grimsby in old photographs a quiet different chapel (with a ‘Primitive Methodist Chapel 1864’ stone above the door) is labelled as a c 1870s picture of the chapel where the cinemas were to be built. Either this building had to be replaced some time in the 1870s or 1880s (for which we can’t find any evidence) or it is wrongly labelled.

Those who have access to the book will find that the picture of Cleethorpes Road on the opposite page labelled as mid-20s gives a side view of the front of the Sunday School / Club and then the Premier Cinema, and again the straight line of the old chapel roof is visible set a way back from the road.

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