Gerald Parkes – A Tribute

To many readers this is may not be a name that you will know.   However to people of North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire he was a very well known and well respected figure from the world of Cinema – not to mention one of the most knowledgeable people about films.

Mr Gerald Parkes – Above
I was so sorry to see the report that Mr Gerald Parkes the former owner of the Majestic Cinema in Scunthorpe Lincolnshire, has died. When, for many years I had an office on Oswald Road, he was a near neighbour and I would see him often to pass the time of day with. He also did an interview for Radio Humberside along with me – after we had had business dealings with Eon Productions who had made the Bond Film Goldeneye at that time. I remember him commenting about the Bond films and saying that many of the younger people who would see the film had never seen the Bond films- as he termed it – ‘PROPERLY’ and by that he meant that they had only seen them on TV and not as they should be seen – on the big cinema screen. I always remember that comment and think how true it is that many people have never seen films – properly !! One of his works colleagues summed him up by saying that ‘Mr Parkes strived to bring the magic of the golden age of stage and screen into the modern era’

Above – Gerald outside the Majestic Cinema in 1998

THE cinema world is mourning the death of Gerald Parkes, 69, the founder and  owner of Parkway Cinemas in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

With the nine-screen Parkway in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire  and the three-screen Playhouse in  Louth, he entertained  generations of film fans.

 Moving tributes have been paid to the much-loved entrepreneur who always had  a smile and a joke and was regarded as one of northern Lincolnshire’s greatest  showmen.

Only a week ago, in St Andrew’s Hospice, Grimsby, where he was cared for,  Gerald was presented with the MBE in honour of his lifetime’s service to the UK  cinema industry.

The one-time lighting boy who put the spotlight on The Beatles in 1963 at a  live show went on to become cinema company ABC’s youngest manager at The Ritz,  Keighley, in Yorkshire, in 1969.   Two years later he was in charge at  Harrogate.

It was a promotion which paved the way for a successful career in the cinema  industry and led to him establishing an independent business, along with his  wife of more than 40 years, Denise.

In Cleethorpes, he promoted live music and comedy nights, as well as live  links to grand operas and theatres throughout Europe.

He welcomed comedy stars such as Alan Carr and Jason Manford and jazz  performer Jamie Cullum to his stage at the Parkway.

Gerald Parkes had battled with cancer for two years and died on Thursday at  St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby.

His wife Denise and two sons Gerrard and Richard were by his side.

Just days before his death he was busy choosing the colour scheme for the  latest refurbishment of Louth Playhouse cinema – the latest part of the £200,000  investment in the popular art deco cinema in Cannon Street.

The Louth Playhouse – Above

Earlier last month, The Playhouse was awarded a Louth Pride of Place award by  the town’s Civic Trust.  He took over the cinema in 1996, boosting audiences  overnight and, having already run the Majestic Cinema in Scunthorpe, eyed the  opportunity to open a multiplex cinema in Cleethorpes.

This came in 2004 when the nine-screen Parkway opened after a huge building  programme.

Above – Gerald’s very own – Parkway Cinema Cleethorpes

It heralded a new era in cinema-going with plush seating and the latest  technology in picture and sound quality.

His insistence on giving all his customers the best experience possible  earned him a Lifetime Achievement award in 2011, marking 50 years in the cinema  industry.

He was also an executive board member of the Cinema Exhibitors Association,  representing independent cinemas.

The Cleethorpes Parkway was awarded Best New UK Cinema in 2007.

The following year Mr Parkes welcomed hundreds of supporters of When You Wish  Upon A Star charity when he hosted the regional premier of the Bond movie  Quantum Of Solace.

Guests raised more than £10,000 at the event and the auction held later at  The Beachcomber locally on Cleethorpes.

He and Denise founded the Parkway Entertainment Company Ltd in 1983. The  family business has grown to be one of the most successful independent cinema  operations in the country, with cinemas in Cleethorpes, Louth and Barnsley, and  plans for a new multiplex in Beverley.

Denise said: “We are particularly proud of our team at Parkway. We couldn’t  have got through without their support, and that of our family and friends.

“The doctors and staff of St Andrew’s were exceptional, as Gerald said – they  allowed him dignity at all times. Essential for such a proud man.

“It didn’t matter how poorly he felt, you could still see the twinkle and  cheeky smile, right to the end.”

Son Richard Parkes said: “His energy and determination was inspiring, for all  of us.”

Scott Marshall, managing director of Parkway Entertainment, said: “It is a  massive loss to the industry. Mr Parkes strived to bring the magic of the golden  age of stage and screen into the modern era.  His continued drive to do this  while adapting to the tastes of modern audiences shows his respect for everyone  who passed through his doors.

“It is my team’s responsibility to continue this legacy and maintain the high  standards he set.  He always said the show must go on and we will strive to  carry it on and expand it.

“He was a great guy to work with and a real gentleman.”

Editor’s Comment

The passion of a man can move mountains…and no one was more proof of that than the late, great Gerald Parkes.

His sheer enthusiasm and dedication to the cinema and film ensured that a generation has been entertained in Northern Lincolnshire.

There is little doubt that if it were not for him, the successful Cleethorpes venue may have stumbled…and who else would have had the drive to keep a great little cinema going in Louth.

It is clear that he loved what he did – his successful business was a by-product of his desire for the movies and the magic that came with the silver screen.

The world is a poorer place when the likes of Mr Parkes are no longer with us – but we thank him for his service to us all.

He passed away just days after receiving his MBE, awarded in the Queen’s New  Year Honours, at Grimsby’s St Andrew’s Hospice, where he was being cared  for.

  1. Gerald Parkes, pictured when his MBE was announced

    Gerald Parkes, pictured when his MBE was  announced

His death was officially announced to filmgoers this morning, who responded  with a round of applause in tribute.


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