A popular Darlington cinema has been earmarked for closure after more than 80 years, putting more than a dozen jobs at risk.

Cinema firm ODEON has announced its LUXE cinema on Northgate in the town centre will screen its final film later this year leaving the future of the historic building in doubt.

Fourteen staff are said to be affected by the closure with ODEON saying it is ‘working hard’ to find them alternative jobs.

An ODEON spokesperson told The Northern Echo: “We are disappointed to announce the closure of our Darlington cinema.

“This decision was not taken lightly and followed a thorough review of all possible options.

 “We are hugely proud and appreciative of the hard work from the ODEON Darlington team over the years and we will be consulting with each colleague to support them.”

The three-screen cinema was refurbished back in 2019 with ‘luxury’ recliners but was forced to close during COVID-19 lockdowns.

One staff member told the D&S Times they were ‘gutted’ by the closure.

They said: “We are all gutted. They told us we would be closing and we would all be losing our jobs.

“It’s sad for the cinema too because it’s been there for years”

Darlington and Stockton Times: The cinema has stood on Northgate since 1938. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe cinema has stood on Northgate since 1938. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

It is not currently known when this year the cinema will close its doors for the last time or what ODEON plans to do with the historic building.

The cinema was opened in December 1938 as The Regal cinema at a cost of £50,000 and ran as the ABC, the Canon and MGM before being taken over by ODEON.

It replaced the Theatre Royal, which had been first built in 1868 only to be demolished in 1873, rebuilt in 1881 only to burn down in 1883, to be restored once more and last until October 10, 1936.

Ahead of its 1938 opening the Darlington and Stockton Times reported: “The Regal is not only an architectural asset to Darlington, however, but is the embodiment of the best scientific knowledge and engineering skill calculated to ensure the utmost comfort for the patron.

“The seats, of which there are 622 in the circle and 978 is the stalls, are specially designed to give the maximum of comfort, and the carpets and appointments harmonise in colour and luxury with the interior decoration.”