Elegance isn't a word often associated with a night at the flicks, but patrons at the Stockport Plaza expect to step into another era, and to do so with a bit of class. From usherettes with doily headdresses to Pathé newsreels played before the main feature, the Plaza delights in its position as a 1930s Super Cinema, a Grade-II listed building and much-loved urban anachronism in the heart of Stockport.
Built in 1932, at the height of the Depression and during the switchover from silent movies to 'talkies', the Plaza served as an escape for people used to the hard life of a northern industrial town. From 1967 to 1999, the building was a Mecca bingo hall, but was converted back to a cinema by a charitable trust in 2000, and fully restored, to the tune of £3.2 million, in 2009.
Featuring a single screen with an impressive 1,200-seat capacity, the Plaza certainly knows its clientele: several recent screenings could have sold out three times over. When it's not screening films, the venue serves as a variety theatre showing classic plays that appeal to both a nostalgic older crowd and young urbanites with a thing for Bette Davis.
And then there's the Compton organ, which is kept in pristine condition so that the likes of Radio 2's Nigel Ogden can accompany the occasional silent movie double bills. Organ music also precedes regular classic movie screenings, and the house organist delivers
a rousing rendition of the national anthem at the end of the night.