Welfare Hall

Ravenhill Road, Fforestfach,
Swansea, SA1

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Old Welfare Hall Fforestfach, Swansea

Viewing: Photo | Street View

A very basic looking two level auditorium community hall that plays host to many things. Very undistinctive on the outside-very obvious amongst all the housing surrounding it.

It is listed in Kinematograph Yearbooks from at least 1944 as the Walfare Institute and later as the Welfare Cinema by 1954. Initially the proscenium was 26feet wide but by 1954 it is listed with a 28feet wide proscenium with the screen size 18feet x 13feet. A 30feet wide Cinemascope screen had been fitted by 1957. It operated until around 1962 as a full time cinema, and then possible bingo use with occassional film shows.

Maybe someone could give much greater details than I remember.

Contributed by Ian Howells & Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 1:09 pm

The films were usually Features that had already finished their runs in the major Swansea Cinemas.
The Hall would periodically stage plays and operettas which were produced by the local Fforestfach Amateur Dramatics and Gilbert & Sullivan Societies respectively. A Christmas Panto was also staged for a week every January by the Gendros Operatic Sociey.
The cinema finally closed it’s doors after several years of falling patronage on April 10th 1976 with a double bill of ‘White Line Fever’ and ‘The Night Caller’. The Welfare was I believe one of the very last Swansea suburb cinemas to close. Shortly afterwards many of the town centre cinemas – the Albert Hall and the Carlton would also close in quick succession during this period. The Odeon, the Castle and of course the infamous Studio Cinemas were for many years Swansea’s only cinemas before the UCI multiplex opened in 1989.

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Initially the Welfare re-opened like so many cinemas of the time as a bingo hall, before finally being taken over by firstly Mackworth’s and later Riley’s as a snooker hall, which it remains to the present day.
The Welfare Cinema represents to me so many magical childhood hours and was undoubtedly the place where I acquired my love of Cinema which endures to this day.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 4:15 pm

I saw ‘The Towering Inferno’ in my school days at The Welfare and the film, believe it or not , caught fire and we were evacuated! The Gendros Amateur company did many years of shows here before venturing to the much better equipped and professional, Grand Theatre in the city centre. Im a little unclear as to what its daily use is today?

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 4:15 pm

I saw ‘The Towering Inferno’ in my school days at The Welfare and the film, believe it or not , caught fire and we were evacuated! The Gendros Amateur company did many years of shows here before venturing to the much better equipped and professional, Grand Theatre in the city centre. Im a little unclear as to what its daily use is today?

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Also, on more than one occasion, the reels were played in the wrong order!

Swanseagirl
Swanseagirl on February 22, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Stumbled across this site, but amazed to see the Welfare Hall listed here. I grew up in the Gendros area and spent many an hour in this Cinema. I remember Mr Dwyer as Manager and also Mrs Alice Gamage who worked there in the box office. Mrs Gamage lived near us, and asked me if I could help out for a fortnight when I was in my teens. As a temporary usherette I was issued with a torch, for showing people to empty seats, and a ‘spike’ with a string attached to it for collecting the ripped halves of tickets! On the back wall at the rear of the stalls, was a single pull-down seat where I could sit during the performance.

My first ever date was at ‘The Welfare’ sitting in the double seats you mentioned. I remember it being a double bill of James Bond. It was Dr No and Thunderball. All the ‘big’ films came to ‘The Welfare’ after Swansea, and the seat prices were cheaper too!

Fforestfach
Fforestfach on September 12, 2010 at 12:35 am

I found this page by accident while doing research on Fforestfach Welfare Hall. I remember Mr Dwyer as Manager as he was good friends with my Grandfather. My mother also worked in the ticket and sweet kiosk. I’m researching the coal industry in and around Fforestfach and would like to start at the Miners' Welfare Hall. If you would like to help, please contact me. Through this site or www.fforestfachhistory.com

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 12, 2010 at 2:45 am

Great story Ian on “TOWERING INFERNO”.

JohnShedletsky
JohnShedletsky on August 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

If anyone is wondering what it is still in use as, It used to be a cinema, then it changed to a snooker hall called Mackworths then got made into a bar, Snokker/Pool/Darts Club called Rileys! You can still see the remains of the 1 screen cinema there now! If you go in through the door, Then look ahead, That is the room where all the tables are.

You can see where the aisle would be, As there are steps in the middle, But sad enough as it is, There is no actual stuff left from when it was a cinema inside :( Anyway, Here is a photo of the side that faces onto the main road: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fforestfachhistory/4784580936/ That was taken a couple of years ago so its different now!

anparton
anparton on September 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I think the Welfare was my first cinema experience – Mary Poppins in 1965 or 1966! I was three years old and still remember it!

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