The now closed Preston Odeon opened as the New Victoria in September 1928 with a capacity to accept 2,500 people.
The cinema was bought by Rank very early on and in the 1960’s a ballroom/dance hall was created in the former stalls known as the Top Rank Suite. The current auditorium made up of the remains of the rear circle extended with a widened pros arch and new concrete stage.
The original ceiling survives although damaged above the false grid. The ball room was to become a disco called Clouds with the entrance being via the old stalls stairs and foyer. Shortly after rebranding as TJ’s a new entrance was created on the site of a gentlemen’s outfitters, as it is today.
The cinema and nightclub operated side-by-side with strict monitoring of the noise levels affecting the auditorium with a decibel monitor/alarm. At this time the nightclub was rented space. The former New Vic Cafe on the first floor, above the entrance hall was converted to a second screen with seating for 101. This screen had only mono sound and a ‘bath towel’ screen.
With rapidly falling admissions, due to the opening of the multiplex, closure was on the cards for the Odeon. Plans were drawn up to convert the entrance hall, foyer, screen two into five screens. The cinema closed its doors for the last time on 17th September 1992 (Guild Year) with a showing of Lawrence of Arabia. The building was quickly cleared of stock, useful equipment such as projectors, sound equipment and screens and abandoned. It was later sold to the then operators of the club.
A few years ago, the frontage was restored (the actual pink-ish bricks are new) and this involved the removal of the signage where the films shown were listed.
There are a number of publications available with the history of the ‘New Vic’. The most accurate is ‘Preston’s Palaces of Pleasure’ by John Cotteral.