Bristol is the sort of place that anybody would be lucky to live in – it’s a buzzing, culturally rich city, and when it comes to the weekend, there is always something to do.
For the people of Knowle West, that ‘something’ used to be the cinema on Filwood Broadway.
The picturehouse, which opened in 1938, was arguably Knowle West’s biggest attractions for many years.
It is now set to be knocked down, with the land earmarked to be used for housing instead. Bristol City Council said earlier this year that the building’s condition has deteriorated since its closure and it needs to be demolished.
In its prime, the cinema had more than 1,000 seats, and was used as an event venue.
The cinema was designed by Dennis Hurford and F. G. W. Chamberlain in a late art deco style that matched the shopping parade next to it, and it was supported by a £7,000 loan from the council.
However, in return for the money, the cinema had to have a separate doorway at the back with its own paybox intended for working class people to use.
A report on the building written by Wessex Archaeology for Bristol City Council said that although tickets from this entrance were probably cheaper, it was intended to create social segregation.
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The original seating in the cinema was arranged over two floors, with a projection room on the second floor.
Musical acts played concerts there, including American pop singer P.J. Proby, whose single Hold Me once reached number three in the UK music charts, as well as Knowle West band The Eagles.
It also used to host boxing matches, and Knowle West boxer Dixie Brown is said to have fought there.
In 1999, the Bristol Post published an article in which memories were shared of the cinema.
Speaking at the time, John Phillips of Easton recalled: “In the early days after the war, when money was short, I was the only boy in my class without a radio at home.
“I used to wonder what all the fuss was about when I could see and hear the news once a week at the Twopenny Rush at Filwood Broadway cinema.”
In the 1950s, cinema attendance began to fall in the UK in comparison with the 1940s, and the introduction of affordable television sets in the 1960s and 70s led to an even sharper fall.
So by 1961, the cinema started to be used for bingo on Saturdays, and 10 years later it stopped showing films altogether and became a full-time bingo hall.
Eventually, in 1994, the building closed entirely, and although it is currently still standing it will soon be gone as planning permission was granted in 2019 to demolish the site.
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