Forum Cinema

St, James Parade,
Bath, BA1 1UG

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Forum Cinema

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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.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

XavierDelamare
XavierDelamare on July 5, 2004 at 8:31 am

I remember precisely seeing movies in this theatre aroud 1965,spending summer holidays in Bath.The frieze of Roman figures gave to the auditorium a classical look.The others movie theatres,Odeon ABC Little theatre were not so beautifull.
I was part of a group of French students and we were always amazed by the audience standing up at the end of the movie while a picture of the Queen was projected on the screen.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 5, 2004 at 1:46 pm

The title heading for this former cinema should be updated. This building opened as the Forum and is still fondly remembered by this name. The architects were William Watkins and A.Stuart Gray.

Ian
Ian on April 16, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Some photos from 2001 here:–

Exterior:
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Foyer:
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Auditorium:
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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 24, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Here is a nice interior view from April of 2000.

edithapearce
edithapearce on June 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm

I did three weeks of work at this hall in 1966 and enjoyed every minute of my time there. The staff were most welcoming to a Welsh lady projectionist. Something I did not always experience when doing relief work.

In spite of it’s magnificence and size, the Forum was always overshadowed by the Odeon cinema which was located directly opposite and the Beau Nash (ABC) cinema which was also a short walk away. Thus both the Forum and the Bath Little Theatre were condemned to showing third run films whilst the majors were always given the first bite of the celluloid apples. I’m very pleased to hear that this building has survived the now demolished Bath Odeon and am wondering if the present owners have retained the projection equipment insitu?

mike5731
mike5731 on May 4, 2012 at 11:15 pm

great cinema i used to be a projectionist during the 60s, i have very fond memories of this once great cinema. the projection box was situated on the roof great place for taking a break during the summer for catching the sun.

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