New roof, pending reopening and financial struggles for Clevedon’s historical cinema
PUBLISHED: 12:47 17 August 2020
Clevedon’s historic cinema is set to reopen in October following major repairs to its roof.
The cinema, in Old Church Road, was built in 1912 and its roof has never been repaired in its entirety until now. A small project was carried out in 2010 and ongoing maintenance, including patch work done over time.
The cinema was in a strong financial position at the end of 2019, with plans to continue screening when the project began on the Grade II-listed building in February. But, due to lockdown being enforced, the cinema had to closed, resulting in a significant loss in revenue.
The Curzon’s chair of trustees, Hilary Neal, said: “It’s been a difficult time, we have received support from a number of organisations. We have had to reduce costs, and taken advantage of the Government’s furlough scheme. We have good support from the public, and are confident we will bounce back,”
Despite the financial difficulties, Hilary says they are cautiously optimistic, and delighted with the worked being carried out on the roof.
She said: “The contractors are making excellent progress, work was paused for six weeks at the beginning of lockdown and restarted at the beginning of May, since then progress has been rapid.”
Inside the building the tin panelling – which is an important factor for listed status – was getting damaged by water going through the false ceiling above the auditorium, which was evidence of urgent need of repair.
Contractors Corbel, experts in historic building conservation, began the process of repairing and replacing decaying timber, installing new rainwater goods and replacing all 12,830 terracotta tiles in February.
The north has been completely retiled and work is halfway through on the south side, with lead and timber repairs being carried out.
Hilary added: “The roof was the most important in our refurbishment ambitions. It looks splendid, the completed north side is very beautiful. As it is an historical building, they have to be careful about finishes, regular checks are made to make sure the work complies with council standards.”
The work is due to finish at the end of September, with plans to reopen the cinema at the beginning of October.
Although cinemas could open from July, Hilary says they could not adhere to the necessary safety precautions while the contractors were still there.
She also added that it wasn’t viable to do two screenings a day and carry out safety precautions in between.
Hilary said: “We felt people weren’t going to be confident at the beginning of July, to come into the cinema due to Covid-19, so we thought it best to wait until the contractors had gone.”
Regular visitors will notice several changes when they return, the biggest being the layout of the auditorium.
The 320-seating capacity will be reduced to just 90, to allow for social distancing, although household groups will be able to sit together.
Hand sanitisers will be provided, and everyone will be required to wear a mask.
Hilary said: “It is complex, but if its planned carefully, it can be done easily. We want to make people feel welcome and protected. More people are booking tickets online, which helps us plan the seating arrangements.
“We will have to be flexible with managing the seating, it will be more complicated than in the past, when people could sit where they liked. Our audience will be reduced for a while, which will also affect our income.”
Many films that are expected to draw in large audiences are being delayed by main movie contributors, because they felt people were not going to go to the cinema.
Hilary added: “We are thinking of how we can make the reopened cinema amazing, with an exciting selection of films.
“We also want people to be confident that it will be a good experience, and they are going to be safe when they come through the door.”
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