Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Former Empire Cinema, Wisbech

click photo to enlarge
The uses to which redundant cinemas have been put are various. I've seen them turned into supermarkets, carpet showrooms, nightclubs and bars. However, one use for these former picture palaces has been more prevalent than all the rest put together: I mean, of course the conversion into bingo halls.

That is the current use of the former Empire Cinema in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.This particular building was erected in 1932, the work of the architectural partnership, Ward and Woolnough. The style chosen, as for so many metropolitan and some regional cinemas was Art Deco of the Moderne variety. Reconstituted Ketton stone was chosen for the main facade where symmetry prevails left, right and above the main, entrance. The composition is stepped with a central "crest" and prominent oriel windows emphasising the middle. The glazing bars are quite unusual, eschewing the almost mandatory horizontal banding in favour of geometrical designs everywhere except for the sunburst of the main doors. Brick is used everywhere except at the front.

Most cinemas are, to my mind, interesting rather than beautiful, architecturally and socially noteworthy buildings that enliven the streetscape with their glitzy oddness. It's appropriate that they continue to be used as places of low-cost entertainment, not only because that continues by other means their raison d'etre, but also because it usually results in their exteriors and interiors remaining intact due to a lack of funds for refurbishment and "improvement".

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (27mm - 27mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On