Work to remove asbestos from old cinema begins – demolition in January

Work finally started today (Monday 2 September) to remove asbestos on the inside of the former cinema on Filwood Broadway – with demolition due January next year.

The building – which has lain empty for 21 years – was originally scheduled for demolition by Bristol City Council last summer – and a drop-in to discuss the plans was held in April 2018.

In a leaflet last spring to residents in the surrounding roads, the council said the building was “unsafe” and with asbestos throughout was “a hazard to the community.” It would have been too costly to refurbish the building and bring it back into use.

Work was then re-scheduled for early 2019 but delayed to bring asbestos specialists in and for an ecological survey to check for “bat or bird activity’ in May.

The demolition is part of the regeneration plans for Knowle West – with housing planned for the site.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “Following the completion of ecological surveys this summer, early work to strip and remove asbestos started this week.

“The asbestos removal is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, with demolition currently scheduled to begin in January of next year. Plans for the development of housing at the site are expected to be brought forward in due course.’’

Earlier last year, councillors Chris Jackson and Jeff Lovell hoped to create a pop-up factory next to the building and for it to be used as storage, but the discovery of asbestos inside meant the plans had to be abandoned.

Although buyers have approached the council – it has proved too costly a project for anyone to take on.

Fond memories

The old cinema – which first opened its doors in 1938 as part of the Filwood Broadway development – has fond memories for many residents who can recall queuing for the Saturday morning shows.

Bingo sessions were also run there from the 1960s – and the building became a full-time bingo hall in the 1980s.

The venue also staged boxing matches and concerts including local band The Eagles – and PJ Proby in July 1964.

Old cinema door open for first time in years while work takes place to remove the asbestos.