This pub was originally the Forum cinema, built in 1937. In 1936, the Gem was demolished to enable a new cinema to be built. The proposed name was the Savoy, but the name finally chosen was the Forum, from the area’s Roman connections. The Roman link was also reflected in the interior design which sported Roman centurions driving chariots, modelled in low relief on the walls and floodlit from the base. There was also a stage, with theatre lighting.
Text about The Forum.
The text reads: This J D Wetherspoon pub takes its name from the Forum Cinema, which opened on this site in 1937. The Forum itself was built on the site of a previous cinema, the Gem Palace, which showed its first film in 1910.
Initially to be called the Savoy, the Forum took its named from the Latin for market place after Hexham’s supposed Roman origins. The interior of the cinema continued the theme featuring Roman charioteers.
The opening ceremony of Hexham’s ‘New Wonder Theatre’ was performed by Sir Loftus Bates, who had done the same thing for the Queen’s Hall cinema 16 years earlier. An invited audience of 1,000 were treated to a showing of keep Your Seats, Please, featuring the ukulele-playing music hall star George Formby.
The Forum prospered until 1974, when in spite of initiatives such as wrestling displays, competition from television forced its closure. The foyer was then used as temporary premises for the Midland Bank, before a brief cinematic revival. In 1982, the Forum re-opened, showing Arthur, a comedy starring Dudley Moore and John Gielgud.
Internal photographs of The Forum, showing some of the original cinema design features.
External photograph of the building – main entrance.
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