Plans announced for former art deco cinema in Darlington

The most recent frontage has been stripped from the old Majestic Cinema on Bondgate, Darlington, a stage of the latest transformation of the old building that was most recently a snooker hall. Picture: Andy Lamb

The most recent frontage has been stripped from the old Majestic Cinema on Bondgate, Darlington, a stage of the latest transformation of the old building that was most recently a snooker hall. Picture: Andy Lamb

First published in News
Last updated

A FORMER art deco cinema is to accommodate one of the region’s largest soft play facilities - together with a theatre and restaurant.

The Majestic, an iconic 1930s building in Darlington will reopen this summer following an extensive refurbishment and restoration.

After much speculation, plans for the future of the former art deco cinema have now been unveiled.

The ground floor of the much-loved Bondgate venue will accommodate Bing Bong Soft Play, which will boast one of the largest soft play structures in the North-East.

There are also plans to pay homage to the building’s past by transforming the upper floors into a live performance theatre and restaurant by 2015.

Project director Sharon Branch confirmed that the building had been initially purchased in order to house the soft play facility.

Plans to extend the project to incorporate a live entertainment venue came about following public interest and further research into the building’s history, according to Ms Branch.

Keen to stress the tasteful nature of the development, she said: “The project came about after talking to friends about a lack of soft play facilities in the town centre.

“A lot of families don’t have cars and there was a need for a town centre location.

“The size of this building is ideal as it gives us the space and ceiling height we need.”

She added: “The soft play is a private business venture at the end of the day but when we saw the historic value and potential of the building and the feeling from local people, we started looking at what else we could do.

“We are tastefully restoring the building, not just ripping everything out of it and the development will be in keeping with the building.

“While this is not a community venture, we do want to consider what local people are saying and will try to keep the history that is there.”

Ms Branch said a “considerable” investment meant that plans to create the upstairs theatre did not depend on the success of the soft play.

The plans have been met with support from members of ‘The Majestic, the future’ Facebook group, which has followed the project since work began.

Member Leanne Round said: “That’s great news for the town, it’s lovely to see some development in the town for children and adults alike.”

Paul Freeman said: “This is fantastic news and of huge benefit to both the town and the local community.”

Comments (16)

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7:12am Wed 14 May 14

laboursfoe says...

Oh dear, I've followed this with interest and was hoping this magnificent building would be put back to its former glory and have something a little more fitting than soft play.

Oh well, was exciting to watch in the early stages!!
Oh dear, I've followed this with interest and was hoping this magnificent building would be put back to its former glory and have something a little more fitting than soft play. Oh well, was exciting to watch in the early stages!! laboursfoe
  • Score: -10

7:55am Wed 14 May 14

startrite says...

thank the lord its not another pub or Indian resteraunt
thank the lord its not another pub or Indian resteraunt startrite
  • Score: 10

8:20am Wed 14 May 14

DarloXman says...

Sounds like "I've just bought a large building, what can I do with it?"
Sounds like "I've just bought a large building, what can I do with it?" DarloXman
  • Score: -6

9:48am Wed 14 May 14

reasoned view says...

At least the council aren't involved to really balls it up.
At least the council aren't involved to really balls it up. reasoned view
  • Score: 10

10:51am Wed 14 May 14

D. Hop says...

I think in this day and age independent businesses need to hit a variety of angles. I understand the concern and only hope its well executed. Sounds interesting.
I think in this day and age independent businesses need to hit a variety of angles. I understand the concern and only hope its well executed. Sounds interesting. D. Hop
  • Score: 19

10:52am Wed 14 May 14

andygib263 says...

Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.
Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly. andygib263
  • Score: 27

2:47pm Wed 14 May 14

pixie4612 says...

We do already have a soft play centre at the Dolphin Centre so not sure why they don't know about this. But, great that a new business has found a home in Darlington and I wish it every sucess.
We do already have a soft play centre at the Dolphin Centre so not sure why they don't know about this. But, great that a new business has found a home in Darlington and I wish it every sucess. pixie4612
  • Score: 6

7:30pm Wed 14 May 14

Liamsm says...

andygib263 wrote:
Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.
Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!!
[quote][p][bold]andygib263[/bold] wrote: Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.[/p][/quote]Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!! Liamsm
  • Score: -13

10:47am Thu 15 May 14

Spy Boy says...

laboursfoe wrote:
Oh dear, I've followed this with interest and was hoping this magnificent building would be put back to its former glory and have something a little more fitting than soft play.

Oh well, was exciting to watch in the early stages!!
I was hoping for something along these lines too, but it will still save the exterior and the new facilities could still be very useful. Not sure about the soft play. Is the Dolphin Centre area used much? There have been similar ones in the town over the last few years that have since closed. Maybe this is special?

I had thought that a rebuild of the interior would be to return it to it's original state, the same as the exterior. It would have filled the gap when The Civic is closed for rebuilding. I believe that this is to start next year.
[quote][p][bold]laboursfoe[/bold] wrote: Oh dear, I've followed this with interest and was hoping this magnificent building would be put back to its former glory and have something a little more fitting than soft play. Oh well, was exciting to watch in the early stages!![/p][/quote]I was hoping for something along these lines too, but it will still save the exterior and the new facilities could still be very useful. Not sure about the soft play. Is the Dolphin Centre area used much? There have been similar ones in the town over the last few years that have since closed. Maybe this is special? I had thought that a rebuild of the interior would be to return it to it's original state, the same as the exterior. It would have filled the gap when The Civic is closed for rebuilding. I believe that this is to start next year. Spy Boy
  • Score: 5

12:58pm Thu 15 May 14

D. Hop says...

The Dolphin Centre soft play is Ok, but its small and far from ideal.
With areas for children, cafe/restaurant plus a live performance area it could be a nice community hub. Not unlike the Arts Centre.
The Dolphin Centre soft play is Ok, but its small and far from ideal. With areas for children, cafe/restaurant plus a live performance area it could be a nice community hub. Not unlike the Arts Centre. D. Hop
  • Score: 8

9:36pm Thu 15 May 14

studio says...

Good luck to them, i really hope this works. As D.Hop mentions, a community hub with pretty good parking close by.

I`m assuming all the doubters above would prefer a run down, closed old snooker hall to look at?? I`m assuming they get a good look at it coming out of the job centre?
Good luck to them, i really hope this works. As D.Hop mentions, a community hub with pretty good parking close by. I`m assuming all the doubters above would prefer a run down, closed old snooker hall to look at?? I`m assuming they get a good look at it coming out of the job centre? studio
  • Score: 8

5:29am Fri 16 May 14

Lionel1 says...

Slightly surprised and underwhelmed by the announcement that initially it's going to be a soft play. Not that I don't wish them success but I had hoped for something more imaginative after all the work that gone into the restoration. Smacks a little of 'we've bought this building, now what do we do with it'? Roll on phase 2...
Slightly surprised and underwhelmed by the announcement that initially it's going to be a soft play. Not that I don't wish them success but I had hoped for something more imaginative after all the work that gone into the restoration. Smacks a little of 'we've bought this building, now what do we do with it'? Roll on phase 2... Lionel1
  • Score: 1

11:24am Fri 16 May 14

Yemen says...

D. Hop wrote:
The Dolphin Centre soft play is Ok, but its small and far from ideal.
With areas for children, cafe/restaurant plus a live performance area it could be a nice community hub. Not unlike the Arts Centre.
my thoughts exactly.
[quote][p][bold]D. Hop[/bold] wrote: The Dolphin Centre soft play is Ok, but its small and far from ideal. With areas for children, cafe/restaurant plus a live performance area it could be a nice community hub. Not unlike the Arts Centre.[/p][/quote]my thoughts exactly. Yemen
  • Score: 1

12:58pm Fri 16 May 14

rav1979 says...

Liamsm wrote:
andygib263 wrote:
Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.
Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!!
A Brilliant comment - really useful!!!!
[quote][p][bold]Liamsm[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]andygib263[/bold] wrote: Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.[/p][/quote]Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!![/p][/quote]A Brilliant comment - really useful!!!! rav1979
  • Score: -5

7:57pm Fri 16 May 14

Liamsm says...

rav1979 wrote:
Liamsm wrote:
andygib263 wrote:
Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.
Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!!
A Brilliant comment - really useful!!!!
Well let's be serious........comed
y in Darlington!! Get real please it's hard enough to get decent comedy in the city's never mind Darlington!
[quote][p][bold]rav1979[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Liamsm[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]andygib263[/bold] wrote: Very good news that new business has opened in our town centre. I am really looking forward to the upstairs develops and hope comedy is featured greatly.[/p][/quote]Worry not comedy is heading to Darlington very soon......Go and watch Darlington FC when they move to Blackwell Meadows they are absolutely hilarious!![/p][/quote]A Brilliant comment - really useful!!!![/p][/quote]Well let's be serious........comed y in Darlington!! Get real please it's hard enough to get decent comedy in the city's never mind Darlington! Liamsm
  • Score: 0

10:27pm Fri 16 May 14

Spy Boy says...

studio wrote:
Good luck to them, i really hope this works. As D.Hop mentions, a community hub with pretty good parking close by.

I`m assuming all the doubters above would prefer a run down, closed old snooker hall to look at?? I`m assuming they get a good look at it coming out of the job centre?
I hope it works, too. Just not quite what we had expected. As for parking . . . yes, but at £1.00 per hour to DBC, including Sundays. Free after 6.00 pm for now though. Possibly 24 hour charges next?
[quote][p][bold]studio[/bold] wrote: Good luck to them, i really hope this works. As D.Hop mentions, a community hub with pretty good parking close by. I`m assuming all the doubters above would prefer a run down, closed old snooker hall to look at?? I`m assuming they get a good look at it coming out of the job centre?[/p][/quote]I hope it works, too. Just not quite what we had expected. As for parking . . . yes, but at £1.00 per hour to DBC, including Sundays. Free after 6.00 pm for now though. Possibly 24 hour charges next? Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

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