Work to begin demolition of old cinema due to start on 1 March

It will take nearly five months to remove the building

Work is due to start next week to demolish the old cinema and bingo hall on Filwood Broadway – to make way for redevelopment.

Contractors Ashcroft Services Ltd will start enabling works on the building – which has lain empty for over 26 years – on Monday 1 March.

In a letter sent to residents living nearby, the council stated: “…The site is one of several in South Bristol being brought forward by Bristol City Council to help meet the demand for more housing across the city.

“The council will be undertaking public consultation on the development proposals in the next few weeks prior to submission of a planning application…

“The enabling works are programmed to take around seven weeks followed by approximately three months of demolition works…”

The building was originally due to be pulled down in the summer of 2018 – but the discovery of further asbestos on the site meant this was delayed.

Work was then re-scheduled for early 2019 but pushed back to bring asbestos specialists in and for an ecological survey to check for ‘bat or bird activity’ in May of that year.

Historic building holds many memories

The old cinema, which first opened its doors in 1938, was part of the development of the new civic and shopping centre.

Seating 1,160 people, the auditorium had two levels and was one of the few entertainment venues for the area.

It holds many memories for residents, including the Saturday morning cinema, boxing matches and concerts. It was converted to a full time bingo hall in 1971 and closed its doors in 1994.

Over the years it was hoped the Art Deco building could be saved – in 2017 Filwood Councillors Chris Jackson and Jeff Lovell proposed a plan to bring it back into use – after consulting with residents.

The proposals were to put a temporary moveable building on the disused site next to the cinema – which would be a factory and learning centre for apprentices. The cinema itself would have been used for storage, due to its bad state of repair.

But with the discovery of asbestos on the site it proved too costly a project – and it was decided by the council the following year the only option was to demolish it.

Bristol City Council commissioned a Historic Building Record of the old Broadway cinema which was published in April 2018 and can be viewed online.

Schedule of work – what to expect

Before work starts to removed the cinema, a scaffold will be erected on the pavement to the front – but there will still be access for pedestrians.

The council says: “The works will create some noise and dust, but this will be risk assessed and mitigated as much as possible by the contractor.”

The contractors will be on site weekdays only, from 8am to 5pm. If residents living nearby have any questions or concerns about the work they should contact Kajal Parmar at the Bristol City Council Housing delivery team on 0117 352 5284 or email housing.development.hra@bristol.gov.uk

Do you have any scans of old photographs of the cinema to send us? We can choose one to go into the next Knowledge Newsletter and others to be displayed on the Knowle West website. Email sue@kwmc.org.uk