Ditch the multiplex and instead embrace the warm, soft bosom of the independent cinema.
Whilst it’s thought that the moving image was first invented across the channel in France in 1895, Britain still nonetheless has a rich and long lasting cinematic heritage of its own.
The UK’s very first cinema, London’s The Regent Street, was where it all began. And seeing as it will be reopening this May after restoration work, I can think of no better way to mark such an event than with a list of the nation’s most beautiful and unique venues.
Here are six quirky, characterful and unconventional cinemas you need to visit this year across the UK.
Bertha Dochouse, London
— DocHouse (@IntheDocHouse) March 23, 2015
So new that it’s not quite even opened yet, this cinema is soon to be housed within the Curzon Bloomsbury, London. It’s going to be one of a kind in that it’ll be the first UK cinema to screen solely documentary films. The cinema will also play host to a series of masterclasses, live Q & As and special events all year round. The Curzon Bloomsbury is due to open very soon – this Friday, (27 Mar) as it happens – and if you’re a non-fiction film aficionado the Dochouse is sure to be well worth checking out.
The Brunswick, London WC1N 1AW, www.curzoncinemas.com
Surprisingly enough this entry is located in Bournemouth, and has the honour of being the smallest functioning cinema in the UK – with just 19 seats. Mainly screening a range of classic and arthouse films, this cinema may be pint-size, but its selection is more in the fine wine territory, and rather aptly the cinema is even located in a cellar. Small but perfectly formed, it seems to be the very definition of ‘bijou’, and raises a strong case for the idea that it’s not the size that counts, but how you use it.
14 Westbourne Arcade, Bournemouth BH4 9AY, www.bournemouthcolosseum.co.uk
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
This cinema began life in 1937 as a News Theatre auditorium showing newsreels. This cinema could perhaps more accurately be described as ‘cinemas’, seeing as not one but four actually reside within its walls; The Classic, The Roxy, The Electra and The Digital Lounge, each one with its own individual style and décor. Tyneside Cinema is also home to ‘The Gallery’, an exhibition and screening space for artwork, and also a little more unusually it even holds its own regular knitting club. Needles to say, news of this had me in stitches (sorry).
10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QG, www.tynesidecinema.co.uk
Kinema in the Woods, Lincolnshire
Located in Woodhall Spa, as the name so subtly suggests this is an outdoor cinema in the woods that was a concert pavilion in a former life. Inside, it even has its own mini museum displaying an array of old camera equipment like the Zoetrope, as-well as featuring a number of pictures of Hollywood stars from the 1930s and 1940s. The word ‘Kinema’ in the name is the Greek for motion, and I would urge all of you to get a move on yourselves and go pay a visit to this absolute hidden gem. As an aside, I wonder if they’ve ever shown the film Cabin in the Woods…
Coronation Road, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire LN10 6QD, www.thekinemainthewoods.co.uk
The Picture House, Campbeltown
After mentioning the oldest cinema in the UK, here we have the oldest continually run cinema in Scotland, which can be found in Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute to be precise. With lavish, theatrical décor, the building itself was designed by a Mr AV Gardner (which aptly sounds like the famous Hollywood screen siren Ava Gardner). It is uniquely one of the only remaining cinemas to still be divided, meaning that there is both a balcony area and an area for stalls. Though The Picture House has currently closed its doors, there are plans for its grand reopening as part of their Centenary Project initiative.
The Hippodrome, Bo’ness
If you want a taste of the early days of film in a fully operational cinema, head to the quiet town of Bo’ness near Edinburgh. The annual venue for its own Festival of Silent Cinema, which we reviewed last week, The Hippodrome is simply a must-visit for film fans. Opened by local film-maker Louis Dickson on March 11, 1912, it has now been verified as Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema, despite the fact that other venues were screening films before that date. The beautiful art deco building was fully restored in 2009, with a new sound system and projectors installed.
10 Hope Street, Bo’ness, West Lothian, EH51 0AA, website
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