Woolton Picture House vows to re-open – but date is now set for Spring 2023
1 year ago
Woolton Picture House has renewed its pledge to re-open and says the date is now set for Spring next year.
Responding to speculation, it stressed there were no plans to turn the Mason Street landmark into a ‘development opportunity’, and that it would re-open as a cinema and, eventually, as a venue.
In a statement Woolton Picture House said: “We want to be clear that at no point is it, or has it ever been, our intention to make Woolton Picture House a ‘development opportunity’.
“We will be re-opening as a cinema in the shorter term and as a venue in the longer term – our plans remain exactly the same.”
Owners started work in July with hopes that they would be able to re-open in time for Christmas but volatility in the economic climate and the challenges that brought meant they felt that could no longer happen.
The statement continued: “Regrettably, having fully evaluated the situation, we made the decision to remain closed which we fully appreciate will come as disappointing news.”
But it said it would re-assess the situation in December this year with a view to re-opening in Spring, and it would make a further announcement about that in January next year.
Woolton Picture House is the oldest single screen cinema in the city, having opened its doors in 1927 after it was built for Alfred Adams who formed the Woolton Picture House Company to operate it.
It remained open throughout WWII, surviving bombing raids and providing the community with information of what was going on on the front line, courtesy of the Pathe Newsreel.
It even survived a fire in the ‘50s which almost destroyed the public area of the auditorium.
Woolton Picture House was forced to close briefly in September 2006 amid sadness, following the deaths of its chief projectionist David Swindell followed by that of then-owner David Wood, but re-opened in March the following year, having been bought by a local businessman.
Even when Covid looked to be the force that would finally end the cinema and Woolton Picture House announced plans to close for good in July 2020, a GoFundMe Campaign raised more than £24,000 in donations to save it. Those funds, it said, assisted in supporting the cinema through the challenges of Covid ‘which was the very first part of this journey’.
Woolton Picture House says in 2020 it received £25,625 of a cultural grant of £36,829 from the British Film Industry with a view to re-opening, but it declined to claim the further funds when it became clear that due to the on-going challenges of the pandemic, it would not be able to re-open at that time.
And it made no further claim in 2021, covering costs on the business independently, which it continues to do.
The Picture House says it will be making the relevant investment needed to re-open and hopes to re-open in two phases: the first in its current form as a single screen cinema, and the second as a cultural venue which will ‘ensure it is there for the generations to come’.
This will include, it says, a second smaller screen and function suite as well as the addition of a stage for which it will look to submit a planning application in Spring 2023.