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Hull’s National Picture Theatre Taken Into Public Ownership
The National Picture Theatre on Beverley Road in Hull has now been taken into public ownership, with campaigners hoping to turn the derelict picture house into a Blitz memorial.
The building is Grade II-listed but hasn’t been used for over 75 years, the BBC reports, after it was reduced to ruins during almost five years of bombing during World War Two.
The local council has said the cinema is a building of “national significance, although the money required to stabilise the ruins and then renovate the site hasn’t yet been raised.
The cinema itself was hit during a raid at a time when over 150 people were inside, but luckily nobody was killed or seriously injured. The frontage of the building is still intact but the part where the screen was located was blown away.
The National Civilian WW2 Memorial Trust’s Hilary Byers explained that at least £125,000 is needed just to ensure that the building is safe. She said: “It’s been a long haul but we are now here on the starting blocks. Its special character is that it has a large amount of the original building still on it.”
It was originally designed by architects Runton and Barry back in 1914 for the De-Luxe Theatre Company, featuring red brick and stone dressings with steel-reinforced concrete. The ornate façade was done in red brick and stone in a Baroque revival style with ionic pilasters that flanked the archway at the entrance.
Currently, the partial remains of the cinema can be seen behind the façade, stretching back to a concrete cross-beam that housed the gallery. There is also a foyer that is believed to have a mosaic floor, thought to have survived the bombing but buried beneath the rubble at the moment.
It was badly damaged on March 18th 1941 during a Luftwaffe air raid. Historic England notes that the site is a remarkable one for being such a rare survival of a building bombed during the Blitz.
Interestingly, air raids on Hull went on for longer than any other city in Britain and of the 91,660 houses in Hull only 5,495 survived these air raids without sustaining any damage whatsoever.
Historic England says: “There is sufficient of the National Picture Theatre remaining to embody the significance of the event happened upon it, and the particular role cinemas had in wartime as centres for news and entertainment, gives the remains additional resonance.”
Those heading up this new campaign are hoping to restore the building as a memorial to the civilians killed during the city’s heavy bombing, transforming it into a memorial area and an educational facility about Hull and the Blitz.
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