ABC Cinema, Clifton
|ABC Cinema Bristol|
Location within Bristol
|Town or city||Bristol|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||James Henry LaTrobe and Thomas Henry Weston|
It was built in 1920–1921 as a cinema, called the Whiteladies Picture House, by James Henry LaTrobe and Thomas Harry Weston (1870–1923) and opened by Duchess of Beaufort on 29 November 1921. It formerly had a ballroom and restaurant but, in 1978, the large single screen was removed and the building split into three screens. As part of the ABC chain, the cinema was eventually absorbed by Odeon, in a merger undertaken by the private equity firm Cinven. With another Odeon nearby on Broadmead's Union Street, the decision was taken to close down and sell the Whiteladies in 1999 with a restrictive covenant forbidding its future use as a cinema.
The cinema has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building. While the front section of the building has been divided off to create a restaurant, the majority of the building, including the main auditorium, balcony and ballroom, has remained empty since its closure in 1999. The building has been allowed to deteriorate and is currently on Bristol City Council's "at Risk" register, deeming it to be in danger of being lost due to lack of use, under-use, disrepair, or dereliction. Several plans have been put forward to redevelop the building. The most recent planning application to convert the building into a gym and flats was rejected by Bristol City Council, went to appeal and was finally defeated in March 2013.
In November 2010 a not-for-profit company, Whiteladies Picture House Ltd, was set up by Alan Mandel Butler and David Fells (manager of the local Redgrave Theatre) to raise the necessary capital to reopen the Picture House as a mixed-use venue with a 450-seat theatre and a 200-seat cinema. The company, which is in the process of converting to a registered charity, has been working with Jonathan Lees Architects to develop plans to preserve the existing historic fabric of the building, including the original Art Deco auditorium.
- Empire magazine, March 2007
- "ABC Cinema". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
- "Register of Listed Buildings At Risk". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- "'Relief as Whiteladies Picture House Flats Plan Finally Rejected'". Bristol247. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
- "Future Plans". Whiteladies Picture House Ltd.
- "Clifton Life, No. 158, pp. 80-1".
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