LETTER: Plan similar to Selsey cinema

I understand that plans to convert the ‘Selsey Pavilion’ back into cinema usage incorporating a theatre, community resource and bar activities may have been delayed.

It may interest and encourage Selsey residents to learn of a similar project that is proceeding well. Fordingbridge, a small town between Ringwood and Salisbury on the A338 lost its small 1933 cinema – the ‘Regal’ – in 1965.

A pottery company (Branksome China) moved into the building until 2012 when they too closed down.

A business man is now investing up to £1.5m into a major conversion of the building which will, when finished, provide a 30-plus cinema styled as a conventional cinema (sloping floor, curtains etc); community facilities, eight studio flats for young graduate engineers, a roof terrace, and bar.

The cinema will be run by a local volunteer film club on a not-for-profit basis, the original 1930s Art Deco facade is being both retained/restored.

It’s hoped that the project will help towards improving the town itself that has suffered many retail closures in recent years (sound familiar?).

Work is currently in progress aiming for completion this year.

Interestingly another local residents group is hoping to acquire and convert the original Ringwood ‘Regal’ cinema from its more recent life as a night club – now closed – back into a large cinema, community theatre and conference centre.

The ‘Regent Centre’, Christchurch and ‘Rex’ cinema, Wareham, are both good examples of old cinemas that have returned to modern use. Perhaps the most successful cinema/theatre that has survived and run by volunteers is the ‘Curzon Community Cinema’ at Clevedon, N Somerset, opened in April 1912 and still successfully operates despite problems in earlier decades.

Grant aid from the Lottery has helped along with local fundraising. It’s worth checking the website relating to the Fordingbridge project as it closely resembles the ‘Selsey Pavilion’ cinema and how the flats/terrace etc have been incorporated.

Clevedon’s ‘Curzon’ is a larger cinema with seating to about 350 and their website shows how they have survived and become successful.