St, James Parade,
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The Forum Cinema was a large, free standing building in Bath stone designed by W. H. Watkins, a noted west country architect of cinemas. There was a large cafe and a dance hall at first floor level, and shops and a spacious foyer at ground level.
The huge Art Deco auditorium was built by J. Long and Sons Ltd. for the Avon Cinema Co. Ltd. and opened on May 19th 1934. A shallow stage was used for variety and the stage has recently been extended into the auditorium to facilitate the live concerts/Bath Festival usage.
Down each side is a celebrated frieze of Roman figures. A huge richly plastered ‘sunburst’ feature dominates the ceiling. Decorative grilles are placed either side of the stage.
The Forum Cinema closed in 1969 and was converted to bingo usage. This too closed, and in 1986 very damaging plans were put forward to convert the auditorium to part-dance hall part-retail use.
Fortunately these failed and the Bath City Church took over in 1988 and have instigated a commendable renovation of the building which now acts as a church & concert hall in the auditorium, and dance school and various community rooms in the former cafe and dance hall areas. It is also a major venue for the annual Bath Festival.
The Forum Cinema is Grade II* Listed building.
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