Explored this place (finally) tonight with Swamp_donkey.
This cinema has changed hands more times than my car! It started life as a Ritz Cinema in 1934, and was billed as "Kent's most luxurious cinema" with 1600 seats. It then become the Essoldo in 1954 and it was subsequently split into two screens, although both the stalls and the circle were kept intact, leading to a surprisingly large Screen 1 in the original stalls, rather than 2 smaller screens downstairs with a bigger one upstairs as usually happens. In 1972 Classic acquired the cinema and added a third screen in the restaurant area where, as music folklore has it, David Bowie's parents met each other. This screen had the odd arrangement of a pirescope contraption in order to project the films, as there was no room for a projector room. It was also tiny for a cinema!
Cannon took it over along with the Classic chain in 1982. Subsequently it became an MGM, briefly a Virgin and finally an ABC in 1996, becoming obsolete in 1999, when Odeon (by then sharing a parent company with ABC) opened their multiplex outside the town.
Sadly now the place is a total mess, it's due for demolition any week now once the planners sort out their dispute with Railtrack. Why railtrack? Well a railway tunnel runs directly under the cinema, I can verify this as we could hear trains in the tunnel about every 20 minutes while we were there, a very eerie noise that is. Railtrack have haulted any work on site until the demolition company can garuntee that it won't affect the integrity of their railway tunnel. Bonus for us, because it was supposed to have gone by now!
(External shot and historical information from http://oldcinemas.webplex.co.uk/tunbridgewells/)
Leading to the cinema screens, and what was formely the refreshments and snack shop.
Screen 1 looking forward
We were able to get under what would have been the stage area and there were all sorts of interesting bits and pieces stashed away
Ladies rest room, possiblly the most un-touched room in the place (apart from the druggy needles in the sinks )
We then ventured into the projector room for screen 1. This had all sorts of stuff scattered everywhere. Sadly no complete projectors, part of one remained thou.
Yes that does say 'Billion Dillar Boner' on it. Subsequent googling has revieled it to be a woody woodpeker cartoon, and not a porn film
Screen 2 upstairs in what would have been the circle area.
Through the modern suspended ceiling the building reveils a glimse of it's former glory.
Then we find Screen 3, which was the former restaurant. This was tiny for a cinema screen, and had a post in the middle. Doh!
You can still see the remains of the piriscope projection device on the ceiling, which was very crudely made from steel bars bolted together. I didn't venture too far into this room, the floor didn't look good.
Lastly we needed to find the second projection booth, very odd this as the only access was by venturing out onto the roof, there was no internal door linking it to the rest of the building.
It was stripped totally, apart from this amazing pannel of swiches and dimmers, which must be origenal from the 1930's when the cinema opened.
And finally, popcorn anyone?
Although it's trashed, I still liked it
This one required an early start, but the morning adventure to The Kings Hall was worth the effort. Visited with Zombizza.
"Located in Southall, Middlesex, in the west of Greater London. The King’s Hall was built in 1916 and was designed by architect Sir Alfred Gelder of Hull. The King’s Hall building has a 3-storey red brick and stone facade. It was operated by the Uxbridge and Southall Wesleyan Mission and it was soon screening religious films.
By 1926, it was operating as a regular cinema, still managed by the Methodist church.
The King’s Hall Cinema was closed in 1937. It then reverted back to a Methodist Church use as the King’s Hall Methodist Church. They vacated the building in January 2013"
Started nice and early, and managed our entrance fairly incident free...if we don't count the massive tear in my trousers..
It's a pretty spectacular place with a wonderful blend of natural decay and marvelous original features/architecture. With little to no daylight, we decided to wonder round the back rooms while the sun came up before the spending too much time on the main attraction, the large auditorium.
The rooms around the back are a weird mix of new and old, some of them being more disgusting than others. One room was so pungent that I took 2 steps in before bailing out.
There was also one room that was filled with beds, old food packets and needles. Looked a few years old, but squatters for sure.
The larger rooms consisted of meeting rooms, prayer rooms and teaching rooms. All of them had funky wavy flooring where the wooden floor tiles had expanded with moisture.
Eventually the sun came up and the auditorium started to flood with the golden morning light.
After a few hours we left, although the exit was hilariously unsubtle.
Thought I'd post up photos from my visit here in April this year.
This location is very under-valued in my opinion, it is in fantastic condition inside and makes for a really interesting couple of hours explore. The building is pretty big inside, many offices and little back rooms to be found, as well as two projector rooms (Projectors sadly gone) with 3 cinema screens and lots of other random rooms. There's also a fair amount of origenal features and detailing in the building, which is fantastic!
The cinema closed its doors in 1999 (I think) when the multiplex odeon opened down the road at lockmeadow. It has laied empty ever since, although someone must maintain it, as it's surprisingly clean and tidy inside, and the ventilation/heating system is still on (as the bingo hall underneath share the same system)
Apologies for the quality of these pics, they were on my old camera and were mostly handheld as I didn't posess a tripod back then!!
Going up . . .
Pop corn anyone??
To the Cinema Screens
This is Screen 2, Screens 1 and 2 are virtually identical mirror images of each other where the origenal audatorium was split in 2.
Motors that powered the screen curtains and shuttering.
Screen 3 was the most amazing room with the most fantastic plasterwork in the ceiling.
And this random room, who knows what it was used for, but there were lots of period features in it, and a bloody strip light right in the middle spoiling it all!
Random rooms everywhere with all sorts of bits in
Some projector room equipment, but no projectors
And a couple of images from the roof looking over maidstone
It was an amazing place to look round, nice and warm and dry for a change as well.