We are absolutely delighted to have signed a long-term lease for this historic Grade II listed building, a former cinema of the early 20th century, and presently the only one of its era left in Sheffield. The largest and most luxurious cinema around, it was often referred to as the “Picture Palace”, because of its glamorous cream and gold colour scheme, period plaster, faïence tiles, stained glass and turrets. Today it luckily still has most of its original features, including its grand plaster vaulted ceiling!
As mentioned The Abbeydale Picture House is a former cinema, originally opened on the 20th of December 1920; the cinema had seating for 1,560 people, and also included a ballroom and a billiard hall. Originally, it was intended to be used as a fully-functioning theatre, however up until 1930, cine-variety instead played a major role at the Abbeydale, before the inevitable arrival of the “talkies” – talking films; at this time the stage was used purely to house the sound equipment. Fast-forward to the mid-1950s, and the cinema was purchased by the Star Cinema Group, which decorated the entire building and installed new projection and sound equipment, including a wide screen. The cinema closed on the 5th of July 1975, and was subsequently used as an office furniture showroom until 1991. Since then, the restoration project has been undertaken by multiple groups, including The Friends of Abbeydale Picture House, and the current owner Phil Robins with Hand Of, who previously operated screenings and the café up until last year.
Our projection room was restored by the Projected Picture Trust, to include 35mm film screenings.
With our 25 year lease in-tow, we look forward to continuing this project. We’re having ongoing discussions with the council to bring it back into use, and look forward to what lies ahead at The Abbeydale Picture House!
Although some facts are known about The Abbeydale Picture House, we are currently in the process of uncovering as much as possible of this fine buildings past; if you, or someone you know can help us with this, please do e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Abbeydale Picture House Oral History Project 2018
As part of its long-term restoration project, CADS is looking to record the experiences of anyone who remembers visiting the Abbeydale Picture House whilst it was open. We’re excited to be working with a History student from the University of Sheffield, whose task is to delve deeper into the history of the cinema as it is remembered by local residents. As an oral history project, we’re looking to record interviews with past visitors to help our own understanding of the history of the Picture House, but also to contribute to wider cultural heritage in Sheffield. The recorded interviews that we collect will be transcribed and eventually deposited in the Sheffield Archive, joining other contributions by local historians. We’re hoping to build on the information that we already have about the Picture House; how it looked and what it was used for, both in the main screening area and in the old Billiard Hall and Ballroom (now the site of the Picture House Social Bar). Any information we receive helps us increase our knowledge of how the cinema operated during the past, and will help with restoration and funding for work in the future.
If you remember spending time at the Abbeydale, we’d love to hear from you. From the 22nd February onwards, we’ll be inviting members of the public to come and look around the cinema and recall their experiences. If you’d like to contribute but are unable to visit, please let us know and an alternative can be arranged!
Please email Abbeydaleoralhistory2018@gmail.com to find out more.