Welfare Hall

Ravenhill Road, Fforestfach,
Swansea, SA1

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anparton
anparton on September 26, 2012 at 2:06 am

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

JohnShedletsky
JohnShedletsky on August 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

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!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 11, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Great story Ian on “TOWERING INFERNO”.

Fforestfach
Fforestfach on September 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

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

Swanseagirl
Swanseagirl on February 22, 2010 at 1:40 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!

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 6:17 am

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

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 12, 2008 at 6:15 am

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 6:15 am

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?

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 3:17 am

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.

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 3:09 am

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 2:56 am

An averagely sized screen was draped by thick green curtains as I recall. The projection box was placed directly above the back of the circle. It was not uncommon for the projectionist George who was loyal to the Welfare for many years to occasionally get the reels of a film in the wrong order rendering the narrative somewhat incoherent but this somehow added to the charm of the experience.
During the 1970s the cinema showed double features and programmes often changed mid-week usually on Thursday. The cinema to my knowledge never opened on Sundays. I remember watching many of the James Bonds and Carry Ons of the period and comedy TV spin-offs such as Dad’s Army and On the Buses. A special Saturday afternoon family matinee was often shown especially when the evening films were ‘X’ certificates.

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 2:44 am

As I remember this quite imposing building (from a child’s perspective anyway) had it’s main foyer behind 2 large glass doors. Inside the marble-floored foyer had a small sweet kiosk in which my Grandmother Christley Dwyer served for many years and the box office.Leading up either side from the foyer were two stairways to the first floor lounge with it’s cane chairs and glass tables and onwards to the circle. Posters for forthcoming attractions were placed at the top of the stone stairways.
The auditorium itself had about 640 seats including a fairly large circle which jutted out about halfway above the stalls. The back row of the circle was particularly renowned among local courting couples for it’s double seats.

Richap
Richap on January 12, 2008 at 2:35 am

My Grandfather was actually the manager of Welfare Cinema from 1951 to his retirement in 1974. His association with cinemas however stretched back to the 1900s when he worked firstly in the Electric which was owned by his uncle and subsequently as the projectionist of the Castle in his hometown of Merthyr Tydfil.
In 1951 he moved to Swansea to take on the role of manager at the Welfare Cinema, Fforestfach.
As a frequent patron during the 1970s I have many wonderful memories of the place and practically grew up there.