Avenue Cinema

364 Cowbridge Road West,
Cardiff, CF5 5BY

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Patriciarfraser on April 10, 2017 at 3:41 am

My father Raymond Clarke was employed at the opening not sure whether he was manager or projectionist.he went there from the Rialto cinema in whitchurch which was owned by a man called Willis dad said the Rialto had rats.that sometimes ran over customers feet! he stayed at the avenue until he joined ENSA and after the war bought a Cinema in Cornwall.

geoffjc on February 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

Further modification and decoration of the building has now taken place ( following the closure of Blockbuster).

edithapearce on June 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Geoffjc is correct.Cowbridge road is a very long road that is split into two parts for address purposes.The Google map and picture shows Cowbridge Road East.The correct address for the former Avenue Cinema is 364-372 Cowbridge Road West,Ely,Cardiff,CF5 5BY.I looked up this address on Google and got a very good 2008 view of the building.The shutters at the front of the Blockbuster Stores are where the windows for the new Howell’s Garages Car Showrooms were inserted after the cinema closed.

geoffjc on June 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

Location is actually about 1 ½ miles west of point shown by Google map, the building is still there, much adapted.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on September 3, 2010 at 5:48 am

Hey— My comment was that thesefamiliar buildings were sinilar to ME, and indeed to friends who also lived in the area. What is this? the last word syndrome?

geoffjc on September 3, 2010 at 2:27 am

Checking my research notes I was surprised to find just how different the Avenue and County actually were, both externally and in the layout of the seating. Unfortunately the Monico was outside the Cardiff boundary when built so the plans do not form part of the current
archive collection.
The shell of the Avenue has survived fifty years after closure as a cinema,much adapted and with surviving external features covered, used by a variety of other businesses.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on September 2, 2010 at 6:46 am

You are right, I worked at the County and attended the Avenue as a child (I lived in Ely so the “Reg” and the Avenue were my local cinemas), the Monico I discovered much later but was always struck by the similarity of these venues

geoffjc on September 2, 2010 at 4:21 am

They were , in fact, though similar in size, designed by different architects.The plans may be inspected at the Glamorgan Archive.
Externally the County was similar to the same architect’s work on the Monico, with a corner entrance,but built of brick rather than concrete.

The Avenue, originally named Apollo at the planning stage was re-designed to save cost but had a “tower” at the entrance end which survives beneath metal cladding.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on September 2, 2010 at 3:49 am

Nobody seems to have commented on the fact that this cinema was almost identical to the County in Rumney.

geoffjc on April 29, 2010 at 3:00 am

April 2010, building work/repairs taking place and new occupants.

edithapearce on October 6, 2009 at 6:57 am

Today I got my hands on a biography of Sir Julian Hodge who was for many years the managing director of the Jackson Withers circuit.

The book relates that Sir Julian himself was also a director of Howells Store (Cardiff) at the time of the Avenue closure.

edithapearce on April 12, 2009 at 12:31 am

Jackson Withers directors had already decided to close one of their Ely Cinemas – the preferred choice being the older and less well designed Regent.However, they were persuaded instead, by vested interests, to close the Avenue. This was because it was located on the busy A48 route between Newport and Swansea. Hundred of cars passed along that road every hour making it an ideal site for a car sales showroom. Thus the fate of the Avenue was sealed and in due course it was converted to become Howell’s new car showroom. At the same time the old car showroom in the Hayes was converted into a Harrods style food store and delicatessen.

edithapearce on April 12, 2009 at 12:16 am

The story went that Howell’s had a garage in the Hayes that sold up market cars. It was located somewhere opposite the Central Cinema and the new Andrews owned Self Service Supermarket sited next to the South Wales Electricity Board offices. This was the first supermarket of its type to open in Cardiff and the Howells management enviously watched it enjoy a tremendous trade. Howells management immediately decided to open their own Food Store in what was at that time their car sales premises. The problem then was where to move the car sales business? There was no other suitable site in the Hayes/St. Mary Street area where Howells store was located.

edithapearce on April 12, 2009 at 12:05 am

I never worked at the Avenue but met quite a few projectionist who had.They told me that the box and cinema had beena paradise to work in and could never understand why it was closed in favour of the less pleasant Regent.Some years later when I was working in Swansea, I was told by a Withers manager that the decision to close the Avenue was a commercial one based more on the needs of Howell’s Department Store in St Mary Street, Cardiff than on retaining the better of the two Ely cinemas..Some of the Howells directors were apparently also Jackson Withers directors.

edithapearce on April 11, 2009 at 11:56 pm

I clearly recall the coming of both the transmitters that were built to serve South Wales in the 1950s.The first to be built was the BBC transmitter at Wenvoe. It was constructed with some haste so as to be in service by the time of the Coronation in June 1953. Its opening had an immediate effect on cinema attendances plus did wonders for the sale of single channel television sets.The later transmitter was the ITV mast built at St.Hillary Down in 1957/8.This mast meant that for the first time people had a choice of channels to watch. Once more cinema attendances dropped over most of South Wales. It was only the coming of the 1961 Bingo boom that saved many halls from complete closure and extended their use for a few more years.