Curzon Community Cinema

Entertainment & Arts

Europe, United Kingdom, North Somerset

The Curzon Community Cinema, in Clevedon, England, is claimed to be the oldest continually-running purpose-built cinema in the world. Opened on 20 April 1912 by Victor Cox, the original building had 200 seats and the first show raised funds for the survivors and relatives of those killed earlier in the month on the RMS Titanic. Its first projector was gas powered, but in subsequent years the building was improved with the addition of extra seating (bringing the total number of seats to 389), and was the first public building in the town to have electricity, which also saw the projector upgraded to run on electric. Between 1920 and 1922 a new cinema was built on the site (without interruption to the nightly programme of films). The building, still in use to this day, has a row of shops along the front, a cafe above, and facilities for stage shows. The cinema was the site of Clevedon's only fatality due to enemy action in the Second World War, when a soldier standing in the cinema doorway was killed by a bomb, damage from which is still visible on the exterior. In 1945 the cinema (previously known as "the Picture House") was sold and changed its name to the "Maxime". Another change of ownership in 1953 brought its current name. Never hugely profitable, the cinema was taken into administrative receivership in 1995, and was bought by Clevedon Community Centre for the Arts, a registered charity, which continues to run it. Patrons include Sir Charles Elton (son of the notable documentary director Sir Arthur Elton), Aardman Animations founders David Sproxton and Peter Lord, directors Nick Park and Terry Gilliam, and actors Tony Robinson and Alan Rickman. Plans are in progress to restore the building, which was greatly altered during the late sixties and early seventies. In 2009 the Curzon Cinema successfully passed the first round in its bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and was awarded £31,700 to help develop a more detailed bid for second phase of the awards process.