PHOTO CREDIT: Greater Manchester Police Museum
The Gaumont Cinema opened in the mid 1930s. The grand building, with a Renaissance-style exterior, double height foyer lined with mirrors and a statement staircase, was instantly popular.
In the basement were two bars. The Long Bar, which was said to have the longest bar top in the world at the time, led to a set of double doors marked 'gentlemen only'. Through those doors was the Trafford Bar. But few people used that entrance. Most preferred instead a separate way in on street level.
Inside most men sat alone, communicating with raised eyebrows and discreet winks. As one of the only places in the city that tolerated homosexuality, the unwritten rules were that there should be no overt displays.
One customer described the bar as “very exotic too, a different world, full of drag queens and half the blokes were wearing make-up.”
Eventually, both bars were redeveloped into a nightclub known as Rotters, which remained until the building's closure and demolition.
Many thanks to Greater Manchester Police Museum for use of this image.
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