Heritage

Strand Heritage

Monthly Heritage Tour

Monthly Heritage tour (click for programme) with our expert projectionist and Film enthusiast Alan McClurg.

Come hear about The Strand's history, its unique Art Deco architecture and traditional movie theatres. Get behind the scenes to see the workings of both our original 35mm film projector and the new digital projectors.

Only 10 places available, pre-book to avoid disappointment. Click here for tour listings.

The Building

The Strand first opened its doors as a movie theatre in 1935 occupying a prominent corner site in East Belfast. It is now the oldest cinema in Northern Ireland and is also unique in its distinctive architectural and interior style which merges Art Deco with shipyard influences taken from its close proximity to the dockland (such as curved walls and porthole doors and lighting). 

The early years were The Strand’s heyday with the building instantly playing a pivotal role in entertaining and educating the local community. 

Throughout the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, the Strand opened and closed a number of times. Following purchase by the current landlord’s father it re-opened in 1986 as a variety theatre seating over 1,000 people and many of the UK’s most loved variety acts at that time performed to a full house. However these were changing times in the entertainment industry and 1988 an internal refurbishment converted the theatre into a four-screen cinema with a wall separating the lower and upper circles creating screens 1 and 2, two further walls converted the wings into the smaller screens 3 and 4. 

The next significant change to the building came in 1998 when RPP architects renovated the façade and interior décor emphasising the building's 1930s heritage to create the distinctive design we see today and winning an RIBA architectural award for their work. 

The Patrons

The Strand has entertained generations of East Belfast families, the fabric of the building is inter-woven with their nostalgic tales:

“When I was growing up in East Belfast in the middle 50s to 60s I was a frequent visitor to the Strand Picture House. I have many many memories of the place, no more so than going to ‘the Minors’ on a Saturday morning to see Batman & Robin, cartoons, etc. The prices were thrupence (3d bit) downstairs and sixpence (a tanner) to the balcony but if you where lucky you could sneak upstairs without paying the extra.” Ken Mills

European Heritage Days in September

We take part in European Heritage days every year running free tours of The Strand.  For more information visit: www.discovernorthernireland.com/ehod