THE former cinema in Commercial Road had a long and chequered history, and has been a big topic of conversation in the We Grew Up In Hereford group this week.

The picture above, which shows queues outside the cinema to watch The Exorcist on August 20, 1974, was shared in the group recently and it started people talking about their memories of the old cinema.

Richard Sockett said: “Sadly, I was far too young to be queuing here in 1974, but was there for Jaws a couple of years later.

“It [the queue] stretched pretty much back to the county hospital.

“In those days before multiplexes, it could be months before big new films reached places like Hereford.”

Marcella Reekie said she was one of the people in the queue for the X-rated film.

The film tells of the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s attempt to rescue her through an exorcism.

“Afterwards, one scared 15-year-old thought the two-mile walk home alone was going to be the end of her,” Marcella Reekie said.

Julie Corrick said she remembers seeing both Jaws and The Exorcist, and “the atmosphere was something you don’t get these days”.

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The cinema’s doors first opened on January 11, 1938, and was then called the Ritz. The site had formerly been used as the city gaol.


Hereford’s other cinema at the time was the Odeon on the site of the Old Judge’s Lodgings in High Town, which opened in 1937 and was most recently occupied by the Steamer Trading Company shop.

In 1972 what was then the ABC cinema closed for three months to be re-developed. The 1,000-seater cinema was replaced with a new 378-seat cinema on the first floor and a bingo hall and social club in the other section.

Then on December 10, 1977, EMI closed the Commercial Road cinema because it was not making money. This left what was then the Focus in High Town, but this too closed in February 1984, by which time it was called the Classic.

In December 1984 Cannon Classic converted the former cinema-turned -bingo-hall in Commercial Road into a 400-seater cinema. It stayed open until 2014, when it closed to relocate to the Old Market development, which gave Hereford a multi-screen cinema for the first time.

The cinema in Commercial Road is now the Freedom Church.