ABC Clifton Bristol

44 Whiteladies Road,
Clifton,
Bristol, BS8 2NH

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CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 31, 2012 at 6:16 am

An exterior view from 1929 can be seen here, a view of the tower can be seen here, and a view of the theater after it was triplexed can be seen here.

charlottecrofts
charlottecrofts on July 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

Hopefully, what you do with it if it is saved is run it as a cinema: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-18705735 Not sure how it is at any more risk of fire than any other cinema? Bijoux independent cinema is having a revival in UK, with Electric B'Ham, The Last Projectionist, etc… I’m feeling more hopeful then ever about saving the Whiteladies Picture House.

Update on planning permission – the decision has been deferred so that Bristol City Council can conduct a site visit later in July. All to play for…

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on April 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

Hmm. The Big question remains.. What do you do with it. If it is saved ??? The danger that follows, is a fire.. Like the Clifton Cinema.. The Kingsway.. in Birmingham.. All down to the evils of the multipex. Still we will be seing them start to close soon.

charlottecrofts
charlottecrofts on April 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

The current owner is currently applying for planning permission to turn into 5 flats and a gym – you can lodge your objection at: http://planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=LXJ89MDN00J00 until 30 April 2012 – help to spread the word to save this wonderful cinema

nxylas
nxylas on December 29, 2009 at 5:24 am

The style for this cinema was actually Bristol Byzantine, an Ottoman-inspired architectural style unique to the city. But since you have to select a style from a drop-down menu, I suppose Art Deco was the closest of the options on offer.

gsdavies
gsdavies on September 11, 2009 at 8:06 am

Thanks Ken. A google search for health club in Bristol leads to quite a number of them. I wonder if plans like this and similar plans for many other closed cinemas are based on proper business plans. Having read all the planning papers online for whiteladies, any return on investment would be very much over the long term. The developers were talking about reinstating lots of original features (which is a good thing) but in the context of maximising profits, they’d have been better off starting with a bolt together shed..

What’s the future now for whiteladies I wonder?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 11, 2009 at 8:00 am

Gary; The last news I had was in April 2008. The proposals to convert to a healthclub were approved in 2005, but nothing happened. In 2007, another company took over the lease of the empty building and apparently intend to stick with those plans. In addition, a 200 seat cinema would be created on the first floor, combined with a cafe and 180-seat restaurant, where diners can view a film while eating. A banner was put on the building stating that the venue would be known as Jessicas, and would open in early-2008. Again, nothing has happened and the building remains shuttered and empty in September 2009.

gsdavies
gsdavies on September 11, 2009 at 7:16 am

Did the work to convert to a health club ever actually start?
What’s the status of the cinema now?
The consent for the works to create a health club was granted in 2004 for a period of five years. If work hasn’t started, then the developers would have to reapply.
If anyone knows, could they share that info?
Thanks,
Gary

greensleeves
greensleeves on February 24, 2006 at 12:02 pm

I’m very sorry indeed to hear about the closure of the Whiteladies. I worked in the area for some years in the 1960’s and watched many movies in the comfortable and elegant surroundings of this lovely venue. The marble pillared entrance hall was something to see and the tower is quite a focal point in the Whiteladies Road. I remember going to see ‘The Americanization Of Emily’ (with Julie Andrews) and ‘The Night Walker’ (Barbara Stanwyk & Robert Taylor), the programming was always interesting. I’m glad that the plasterwork will be retained and there will be some sort of restoration but will the members of a health club appreciate any of it? I’m very surprised that it couldn’t have been developed as an ‘art house’ cinema as there is a large student population in Clifton. This area also has museums and art galleries as well as the University. How sad!

aitch
aitch on January 27, 2004 at 8:08 pm

WHITELADIES CINEMA: THE FINAL CURTAIN

(From the Bristol Evening 27 January 2004)

It’s the end of the road for the campaign to save the former Whiteladies Road cinema from redevelopment, as the city’s planning committee gives the go-ahead to turn it into a health club. Gerry Brooke looks back at its history

JANUARY 21 was a sad day for Bristol’s cinema lovers. Despite strong protests from campaigners, and a 5,000-strong petition, the city’s planning committee finally decided – by six to four – to give the nod of approval to plans by London-based developer Medinbrand to change that much-loved landmark, the Grade Twolisted, Whiteladies Road cinema, into a health club.

The permission means that the outside will not be touched but internally the seats, projection rooms, suspended ceiling, timber cladding and foyer partitions will go. But, as part of the deal, the decorative plasterwork will stay and the former ballroom and auditorium will be restored.

Although the cinema – then the oldest left in the city – finally closed its doors to the public in December 2001 it’s a crying shame that Bristol has now lost another community cinema and, with it, a part of a living heritage stretching back almost three generations.

It’s a far cry from the heady days in November 1921, when the cinema was proudly opened by the Duchess of Beaufort, who was joined for the occasion by the archdeacon of Bristol and a senior Free Church minister. Cinemas were still viewed with suspicion by some ministers and the management wanted the blessing of at least two influential churches before embarking on their newest venture.

It was a very grand building in a prime location. The imposing entrance hall featured 10 columns of Italian marble, a marble dado and a floor composed of marble crazy paving, or mosaic. The Western Daily Press reported: “Here one need not dream of dwelling in marble halls but can enjoy the reality.” As well as comfortable seating for 1,300 there was a big crush hall where wellheeled patrons could wait in comfort. An elegant restaurant and dance hall built next to the cinema now house the Dog and Duck pub.

The cinema also featured a marble staircase with mahogany panelling and a balustrade which led up to a balcony with leaded lights. There was an upstairs hall with a sprung floor. At one end of the building a prominent white-stone tower arose, with the name of the cinema set in concrete at the top. The Bristol Times & Mir ror newspaper insisted on calling it a “Kinema” as they said that it was a building devoted to kinematography. It certainly sounded posh – better than “Picture House” anyway – and suited its Clifton location.

The chairman of the venture was Mr Albert Moon, who became Lord Mayor in 1936, and who had interests in two other cinemas, the Bristol Gem and the Kingswood Regent.

Considering its pedigree the cinema was strangely unadventurous and was the last major city picture house to be adapted for the talkies. It resisted the trend and even billed itself as “The Home of the Silent Screen”.

In its early days the Whiteladies cinema was locked in bitter rivalry with another Clifton picture house – the Triangle cinema on Queen’s Road. Emmanuel Harris, (grandfather of Anita Harris
, popsinger of 1970s) the Triangle owner, scooped his upthe-road rival by getting first release rights from all the major film distributors.

The two businesses finally merged but were then sold in a £250,000 package to Associated British Cinemas.

ABC, as they were known, also took over the King’s, the Cabot, the Empire and Park cinemas. Mr Harris took his money and set up a rival chain, comprising Zetland Road’s Scala, Cheltenham Road’s Plaza and Shirehampton’s Savoy. At one time the city had an unbelievable 40 picture houses. The Triangle was lost in the Blitz.

The ever popular Whiteladies cinema survived the decline in cinema-going that set in after the war and, in 1955, hosted the regional premier of the musical Oklahoma, and, in 1958, Gigi. It also became the first Bristol cinema to have a bar.

In 1978, following a popular trend, the large screen was done away with and the building split into three mini cinemas.

There is now a signed clause in place between the development company and the Odeon, which owned the building, stating that the building should never be used as a cinema in the future. This now seems superfluous, as once the internal changes are made it’s highly unlikely that it will ever be adapted to cater to a cinema audience again.

It’s all a great pity after so many people have put up such a long and spirited fight to save it for future generations.

GStaples
GStaples on October 15, 2002 at 7:05 am

The developer has submitted his appeal agianst the council’s decision. A public inquiry is now to be held on March 18th 2003.

GStaples
GStaples on July 22, 2002 at 9:31 am

Latest News: The plans for the health club were unanimously and robustly rejected by the council’s planning committee. The new owner intends to appeal. So first battle of the war won, but sadly the building remains boarded up!

GStaples
GStaples on March 19, 2002 at 5:32 am

Despite ever increasing deviousness by the developer we are still optimistic that the health club plans will be turned down. There are people with a serious bid to re-open it as a cinema. One major stumbling block is the restrictive covenant imposed by Odeon when they sold it preventing it being used a cinema. Isn’t that a marvellous gesture to our community? All done by a company that professes to be “Fanatic about film” and has a name that symbolizes the golden age of movies. Oscar Deutsch the founder of Odeon must be turning in his grave.

charlie
charlie on January 3, 2002 at 12:18 am

It’s to bad that this theatre was closed, I’m glad I had the chance to visit it while living in Bristol. It was just down the road from our place above the Bristol Blue and so convenient, and 2 pound tickets, how can you beat that? Beats the Odeon in Broadmead anyday.