I’ve always rather liked the curved frontage of the old Essoldo cinema in Stretford. I think it was a bongo hall when I first came to Manchester, and I believe it housed a roller rink at some point as well. Some of its original grandeur was lost to road widening in the sixties or seventies, and it would be a shame if what’s left of the building simply rotted away.
It’s not as great an architectural crime as doing nothing with London Road Fire Station for over twenty five years, but it is a waste of an interesting building, so I support this petition calling on Trafford Council to make a compulsory purchase and find a community use for it.
The curved deco frontage of the old cinema in Stretford has long been one of my favourite pieces of architecture in Manchester, so it’s been awfully lax of me not to go and find out more about it before. This blog gives a potted history of the building and is keeping up to date with the current owners plans to bring it back into use.
Here’s a poor picture I took of the frontage ages ago.
And some better, and arty, pictures by Flickr users Gene Hunt and bitrot.
This interesting feature, which I photographed on a recent ride, is the side entrance to the cinema. I don’t think the main building and this row are connected any more.
When it opened as the Longford cinema in the 1930s the front entrance was grander, designed to look like a giant cash register by architect Henry Alder. It was lavishly appointed inside and outfitted with a stage so that theatre performances could be put on one week out of every four. It became an Essoldo cinema in 1950 and, as audiences dwindled, was bought by Ladbrokes in 1965 and turned into a bingo hall. A large chunk of the frontage was bulldozed away in 1979 when Chester Road was widened, leaving just the fondant curves which caught my eye the first time I rode through Stretford. (All of these details have been cribbed from the longfordcinema.co.uk history page, which goes into more, and fascinating, detail.)
I have an inkling to model the Longford, or at least adapt its curves for use on model railways, probably using 3D printing. I’ll be watching developments with the real version with interest as well.