Visited with my mate Nasher. After a recce with Maniac and Cave Zombie, i decided this must be done. Although was originally planned to go with Maniac, due to his busy lifestyle we couldn't fit it in.
A bit of history:
The derelict site on Mount Pleasant Road has stood abandoned since October 29, 2000, when ABC bosses announced the termination of business despite opposition from users. It took just 20 weeks to build the 1,600-seat Ritz complex, which used the slope of the hill for the auditorium and boasted a 15-shop corner frontage on the Church Road junction. It also housed a £7,000 Compton organ which was removed when the cinema split in two in 1970, 16 years after it became the Essoldo.
Staff included four projectionists, four doormen, salesgirls, a car park attendant, a page boy, waitresses in the Florida restaurant and 13 usherettes. The Essoldo became the Classic in 1972 and a low ceilinged 123-seat cinema was created in the old Florida restaurant.
In 1982 the cinema was taken over by Cannon and 11 years later it became the MGM before taking its final name – ABC – in 1966. Despite the many changes and modernisation over the years, which included the concealment of 1930s details such as organ grilles.
Now it stands absolutly wrecked by vandalism, pigeons and water damage on a frightenly dangerous level. So bad that the whole entrance area's ceiling has come down.
On with the few pictures i took.
Coming soon...... A pond life attack.
Quite alot of police tape was lying around, almost everywhere. On to the 2nd screen, where Nasher decided he wanted to pose.
I was majorly gutted to see that every single seat had been ripped out.
And on to Screen 1, which is now an massive empty space so didn't take no photo's, but the projection room was rather interesting.
I believe this was some sort of projector.
Some old reels and fianlly, some electrics...
I did feel a bit disapointed by this, it is so trashed it really is a death trap. Not to mention the smell of pigeons and disease. Don't attempt it unless you have a hard hat, and at least a dust mask.
Big thanks to Maniac on this one. If it weren't for the recce he organised i would of never of got this done. And on his request it is the private forum, but after all that police tape thought it would be best anyway.
By vanishing days
probably one of the weirdest places ive explored as the heating and electric still runs as its connected to the bingo hall next door thanks to abandoned uk for the tour visited with 12 gauge as well. loads of little bits still around didnt have my eos with me on this one so pics are a bit poor any way on we go
admin upstairs parts
art deco style room upstairs
cinemas 1 and 2
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.