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The Curzon

The Curzon Cinema, Clevedon, claims to be the world's oldest purpose-built, continuously-used cinema building. It opened on April 20th 1912, a few days after the Titanic disaster. The original building was at the western (right-hand) end of the present site. It had a sliding roof which could be opened for ventilation.

In 1919 the rest of the site became available and was bought by the cinema. The existing building was completed in 1922. Materials are all local. Bricks and tiles came from a brickyard in nearby Strode Road and the cinema's owner provided the stone from his own property. An organ was fitted but was removed in 1929, when "talkies" came in.

The cinema had a box office at either end and the first floor was occupied by the Oak Room Café. In January 1941 a bomb fell nearby, shattering all the stained glass in the frontage and leaving the stonework of the western gable heavily pock-marked, as it remains to this day. A 22 year-old serviceman from Rotherham who was passing at the time was Clevedon's only war fatality.

The Curzon name derives from 1953. In 1972 a change of ownership brought a number of changes. The eastern box office closed and became a shop. The remaining box office was divided and one half also became a "retail unit". Internally the Circle was closed and the position of the projector changed. It is said that an original art deco decorative scheme, made from tin plate, survives above a modern suspended ceiling and behind wall curtains. The oak panelling of the Oak Room Café also survives.

Architecturally the façade is naïve but inoffensive. There are rudimentary pediments at either end and, quite correctly, an odd number of bays. Simple embellishments to the stonework. Pilasters with angular capitals on the first floor.

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Uploaded on May 17, 2007