Clifton Cinema, Wellington - May 2023
This cinema was opened by the Clifton chain on the 18th of January 1937, and was a copy of the Walsall Rosum another cinema owned by the chain. Seating was provided at both stalls and circle levels, and the proscenium was 42 feet wide. In 1975 new projectors from Westrex were installed, and shortly afterwards in 1979 Modernisation Ltd were brought in to spruce up to "modernise" the cinema. A wall was constructed under the front edge of the circle allowing for the creation of a bar/café within the former rear stalls area. At the same time the auditorium walls were draped, with a new screen and curtains also being installed.
Just two years later the cinema closed, and was purchased by the Saverite supermarket chain who operated out of the stalls area as well as an adjacent building. The former circle was re-opened in May 1987 as a cinema, however it then closed again eighteen months later. After Saverite closed the building was taken on by Dunelm who continued on until 2012 when they moved to a purpose built store nearby. For a period the circle area was used as a Quasar laser tag centre, I believe this was during the 1990's and early 2000's.
In 2013 a local group calling themselves the Clifton Community Arts Centre was formed, who had a vision of re-opening the cinema for the benefit of the community, their negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful but they did end up opening the Orbit Cinema close by in a former HSBC bank.
Various plans have been drawn up for residential developments, some included the retention of the frontage however it now looks more likely that the whole site will be levelled in due course.
Further materials for those interested: Cinema Treasures
Visited with Humpa on a very much spur of the moment trip, everything seemed to be pointing to demolition having already taken place but after a bit of digging it turned out that this was actually incorrect. Unfortunately supermarket conversion don't tend to be very subtle so there wasn't a great deal to see within the auditorium, I think the stage house area has actually been entirely rebuilt at some point, but the upstairs areas were more interesting with a reasonable amount still remaining.
The building is in a bit of a sorry state having lost it's nice Clifton lettering to be replaced by a generic Dunelm sign. The foyer canopy has also been removed and replaced with a bit of a weird arrangement.
Inside the foyer there are still some remnants of the original ceiling, however everything else down here has been extensively altered. The underside of the circle is completely exposed and the majority of fixtures and fittings have now been removed.
In the main auditorium space all you have to enjoy is the ceiling which is still in place, however being painted black it is hard to make out the curving shapes.
The upper floor of the foyer has been subdivided into multiple rooms, this one still bears the paintwork and staged seating from when it was the Quasar briefing area. The coloured paintwork ends at a suspended ceiling trim, this ceiling has gone now but was concealing behind it the ceiling installed during Modernisations works, they formed a feature light detail which actually concealed the original plasterwork detailing.
Some poking around in the adjacent rooms revealed an access panel that allowed access above the Modernisation ceiling and revealed the original ceiling in all its glory.
A room adjacent to this has a couple of areas with 1970's movie posters stuck to them, which I thought was quite a nice thing.
The room where you would collect your laser gun, the hatch to the left leads to the aforementioned above ceiling area.
The original circle raking survives but has been built over to provide more level areas. This seems to have been used as the stock room for Dunelm in later years. Note the ceiling details that have survived.
The projection room and surrounding ancillaries, empty but nicely dated. There was access to the loft area but sadly this was lacking in goodies, just the usual few lamp boxes and unbearable furnace temperatures.
All in all, well worth a nosey before it gets turned to rubble.