This film is part of Free

Day in Houghton-le-Spring

A man about town portrait of Houghton-le-Springs very own cinema mogul in the 1930s.

Non-Fiction 1930 6 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


A fascinating local celebrity portrait of a consummate showman and entrepreneur: the charismatic bowler-hatted gent with the walking cane prop is John Jack Lishman, the man who built the Coliseum cinema and new art deco Grand picture palace on Newbottle Street in Houghton-le-Spring, on which the camera lingers.

John Lishman helped to transform Houghtons Newbottle Street into a thriving shopping and entertainment centre in the early decades of the1900s. The opening scenes of life on the street are a record of his empire. His original business, a drapery, furnishing and undertaking store, became Doggarts department store. Lishman and partner Norman Robinson opened the purpose-built, modern Coliseum opposite Doggarts on 3rd August 1921, designed by Newcastle architects Percy L. Browne and Glover. The art deco Grand was built on the site of the Old Gaiety Theatre, opening on 21st April 1930, here advertising American blackface radio comedians Amos n Andy in their first film release.