Neil Hennessy-Vass visits an exciting new cultural attraction in Bromley, South London
Whether you’re a cinephile, blockbuster chaser or like me simply in love with film today’s opening of Bromley’s new Picturehouse Cinema is welcome news. Part of a chain of cinemas started 30 years ago this brings their estate to a grand total of 25 properties while programming another 40 in the UK. As with all their projects a suitable building with the right heritage has been chosen, in this case a run down and long disused cinema in Bromley High Street. While there are other offerings in the town this cinema promises a varied programme of classics, world cinema, latest releases and screen arts that streams live performances from around the world such as classical concerts or opera.
Built in 1936 the Art Deco structure was designed by George Coles. Earle Architects were tasked with the renovation and rebuild of this superb building. The small high Street frontage belies its cavernous interior housing the original four screens plus another two added to extend their offerings. The rakes have been altered to allow better viewing experiences and the screens are all equipped with induction loop hearing assistance, extra leg room and reclining seats and state of the art audio systems. One of them even has a few sofas (designed for two people) to snuggle up in, how cool is that.
Much of the original architecture has been retained or replaced like for like. From the radiators to railings every detail has been considered and if at all possible retained. The vast foyer has a replacement rubber floor based on photographs of the original (they had to guess the colours as the only available shots were in black and white). It looks splendid and the whole feel of the place the moment you walk in is of a time gone by, Saturday matinees and fresh popcorn.
Clare Binns, Joint Managing Director of Picturehouse says; “Walk through the front doors of Bromley Picturehouse you’ll enter a beautiful historic building featuring a blend of classic art-deco design with modern Picturehouse touches. We love to choose unique, historical buildings because of the naturally inviting atmosphere and character they possess. Bromley is set to be one of our most distinctive and unique projects yet.”
In addition to a varied programme of screenings (17 different films in the first week alone) encompassing live signings, a Silver Screen events for the over 60’s with free tea and biscuits, Big Scream (for parents and babies) Discover Tuesdays and Vintage Sundays, well behaved dogs are also allowed a ticket to the ‘Dog Friendly’ events, there is also a kitchen and bar that’s open all day and into the evening. With a head chef poached from London’s Soho House and the promise of specials to suit the tastes of locals, this is surely going to be the trendiest media hub in town. I for one can’t wait to see my first film there.
242 Hight Street
Picturehouse is thrilled to welcome director Asif Kapadia to Bromley for a Q&A following a special screening of Diego Maradona on Sunday 16 June.