Founded in 1937 by Dixon Scott, Tyneside Cinema was originally conceived of as a newsreel theatre; a place wherein access to news and current affairs could be democratised in an age wherein such access was typically somewhat limited to those who had the time, money and resources to read the papers. In the many years since, the Tyneside has continued to grow and evolve, honouring it’s own legacy and blossoming into the bustling, community-orientated culture hub that we know and love. Not only is it widely recognised as the North Easts leading independent cinema, but to this day, the beloved Tyneside is the UK’s last surviving newsreel theatre, which is pretty darn cool, if you ask me.
Over the last year, however, adversity has befallen all of us in some way or another, and the Tyneside Cinema is no exception to this rule. Not only did the cinema – along with it’s related social hotspots Vicolo, the Bar Cafe and the Coffee Rooms – face longterm closure due to the pandemic, the longstanding toon institution also faced severe controversy over a series of harassment claims made against management staff. On top of all of this, the cinema also experienced cruel, widespread water damage several months back. A real shocker of a year then, it would appear.
With the reboot of Tyneside Cinemas screens, we are once more able to enjoy one of life’s most brilliant pleasures: great cinema.
Thankfully however, after sixteen whole months of closure, the cinema and its related dining and drinking venues have finally entered a phased reopening this August, hurrah! So, what exactly does that look like?
Thank goodness. The Tyneside Cinema has finally reopened its doors, fully fixed up and redecorated following the flooding earlier this year. With the reboot of Tyneside Cinemas screens, we are once more able to enjoy one of life’s most brilliant pleasures: great cinema. As an out-and-out cinephile, I’m so relieved to see that the screens of this cultural institution are once more in action, making independent film and documentary accessible to all.
As per usual, the screenings at the Tyneside Cinema are as diverse and varied as ever, although there is a reduced film programme for the time being as the cinema gets back in the swing of things. You can expect all the big releases plus a host of independent, arthouse picks. For me, this is where the Tyneside really shines, with it’s emphasis on smaller, more niche cinema, as well as reruns of cult classics and long-time favourites.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief that, alongside the cinema itself, the much loved Vicolo is open once more. Thankfully, I shall therefore be resuming my favourite pastime: Settling down with friends and several glasses of wine during the evening at the cosy pavement cafe and cocktail hotspot, sprawled under the twinkling strings of fairy lights suspended along High Friar Lane.
Once the weather turns, too, you can move indoors – where Vicolo has a handful of cosy indoor seats – and watch life tick over slowly from the warmth of your window seat. Ah, bliss. I’ve always felt as though Vicolo, with its compact, narrow layout, booth seating and traditional brass details, has the feel of an opulent, old steam train carriage.
Many an hour I have spent whiling away in the Bar Cafe, sinking great pints and indulging in killer food. The menu is diverse and delicious with an emphasis on local ingredients, and with it’s welcoming vibe the space is a great place to chill out pre or post cinema visit. The Bar Cafe is also a perfect spot to grab brunch. As the cooler days take hold, I’ll be seeking refuge on Sunday mornings at my favourite corner table with a plate of homemade crumpets topped with shrimp butter.
We’re waiting with baited breath, as well, to see if they’ll be bringing back their Cult Classic Mondays – where the Bar Cafe screens much loved classic films for free at the back of the venue, which is closed off and cosied up for viewing with heavy red drapes.
Itching to get your cinema on? Head to the Tyneside’s website to check out what’s coming up.