What is it? Now it’s a McDonald’s but, until it was demolished in 2000, the site housed the cinema that inspired Mike Leigh and John Cooper Clarke, the snooker club where Alex Higgins et al honed their skills, the club where a very young Elkie Brooks performed, the rehearsal space where Joy Division and A Certain Ratio created their sounds, where New Order was born, and the disco where Jimmy Savile and co preyed…
Where was it? On the corner of Bury New Road and Great Cheetham Street West, a majestic art deco building covered in off-white tiles, and flaunted in the grand Italian style of the Rialto area of Venice from where it got its name. It also had two cherubs and a cello carved into red terra cotta above one of the exit doors.
The Rialto is described by Cinema Treasures website as “a 1,400-seat cinema (with all seating on a single floor), nine shops, a billiard hall and a dance hall. It could be said to have been one of the earliest examples of an entertainment centre…”
A bit of history…
The New Rialto Cinema was opened on 7th November 1927, before being taken over by the ABC chain in 1931, which re-named it the Rialto Super Cinema, then the ABC in 1965. It remained open until 1973, when it shut and became a bingo hall (Alpha Bingo Club, then Coral Bingo Club) until 1999. The pay box and kiosk from The Rialto are now installed at the Regency Cinema in Marple.
Meanwhile, there was an ever changing array of nightclubs and bars – The Broughton Assembly Rooms which housed the Disc A Go-Go Club in the early Sixties, and the Whisky A Go-Go where Jimmy Savile was the resident DJ and Dave Lee Travis DJ’d. The Riverboat Club was also housed in the complex. The Broughton Assembly Rooms became Pinky’s where Joy Division rehearsed and wrote some of their final tracks in 1980 and where New Order was born. Pinky’s then became Changes, Hoopers and Valentines. There was also a roller skating rink, which later turned into a piano bar called Carringtons.
Potters Snooker Club was where the superstar players, including Alex Higgins, Jimmy White and John Virgo, practiced and played. And where George Best drank…
The derelict Rialto was later bought to turn into a huge dance venue but the building was in too bad a state, and one night mysteriously burned down…
The Rialto lives on the name of the McDonald’s branch that now sits on the iconic site…and a in a blend of coffee produced by the Salford Roasters company…
“We were looking for a name for our new blend of slightly darker coffee and we wanted something unique and Salford” says Salford Roasters founder Nik Storey, whose first customer was Cuckoo in Prestwich Village “A friend of mine suggested we call it The Rialto and it had that resonance with an iconic Salford building and cinema and all that heritage. It’s also a famous bridge in Venice which fitted with a darker blend Italian style coffee. It was a perfect match!”
“I was born in the foyer of the Rialto!” – click here
Celebs and The Rialto – click here
The Rialto: My Time at Pinky’s by Carl Mundy – click here
The Rialto Sees Bingo, Pool, Fights, Celebs and Gangsters: David Woolfenden’s memories of running the Rialto – click here
Hi all, I read with interest your story about the Rialto buildings. If you read this article from a fresh face, you could be mislead as most of the stories you have mentioned are not from the Rialto building itself but actually the building at the side of the Rialto on great cheetham Street and Hilton Street!
I worked at the Rialto for four years from 1984 to 1988, in that time of Coral social clubs it was my first job after leaving school assisting the handyman and I had to be off the premises by 12.30 due to it being a licensed premises. At the time, I was making £5 more than my school mates on YTS all day over 5 days.
One of my first jobs was helping painting the smoke stained walls of the hall and too much immulsion paint would end up streaking the paint from the nicoltean. At 17 years old, I took over the Handymans job and regular duties was opening up the building in the mornings for the cleaners and carried out my duties of checking for lamp outages, not just the building lighting but the large stage bingo board and other duties as a handy man, damaged tables and chairs or even outside vandalism.
My parents moved out of Salford where I ended up on an hours commute to the Rialto. Besides the Bingo hall, I also opened the pool club for their cleaner and one of the managers was David Macc. It got to a stage where I was working till 10pm in the evening and geting the 10.40pm bus home near Albert Park.
During my time at the Rialto, I made a lot of friends and knew a lot of people from the area!
Today I remember every part of the Rialto buildings from the down stairs pool club, store rooms to my work room next door from the bingo Hall side store rooms and bricked up basement entrance leading to the back into Hilton Street. Every room in the social club upto the projector rooms and beyond that to the gantry walk way that I frequented a lot with large sodium lamp to replace the faulty one of about 12 for the hall, No health and safety at the time as I stuck my head through the ceiling mysteriously shouting the cleaners name(s) at the time about 50ft below!
During the time of Maurice holt becoming manager, their was dress up events for pensioners parties, local children singing groups and brass bands marching around the hall.
During my time their, I’ve not witnessed any fires or fire damage as someone mentioned and must of been one of the buildings next door. Your picture of the “Rialto auditorium” isn’t the one as the Rialto had a raised stage with a bar and separate food bar area.
The stage was quite wide hence the groups mentioned singing on it.
The Rialto also had two large doors each side of the stage for emergency exits, ladies toilet to the right entrance with large gas heaters above it!