The Market Hall Cinema Ebbw Vale
The History Of Wales’ Oldest Cinema
(Most of this article has been taken verbatim from newspapers of the day)
With the recent success of the Cinema in the Market Hall at Brynmawr it’s fitting that we look back at the creation of the hall.
In April 1862 this is how the Monmouthshire Merlin reported on the town:
“BRYNMAWR. OUR PROSPECTS. This town was some time ago a sort of capital of the iron district, both in a commercial and intellectual point of view. The many large and handsome places of workmanship which adorn the town, with its town-hall, reading room, market place, magistrates room, and board of health, made it one of the most important places on the hills but here, as in other towns in the district, the bad times have shown their pernicious effect upon the place and people. We are happy to state, however, that the prospects of the town are getting brighter, and a change for the better will probably soon take place, if the new railway from Abergavenny will be opened next month, and then, it is more than probable, the extension of the Western Valleys Railway from Nantyglo will be made, so that the junction will be at Brynmawr, thus securing to the place the advantage of two important (railway) lines. This must prove a great boon to the inhabitant, and must have a tendency to improve the trade”.
In 2014 we were delighted that The Market Hall Cinema was awarded the title UK Cinema of the Year 2014 at the annual SCREEN Awards in London
But what did the Hall look like when it was first opened? The building is 105 feet internally, having a gallery at one end over the main entrance, vestibule and collector’s office and at the other end a platform the full width of the hall, 22 feet from back to front.
This platform is intended, in connection with the market, for wholesale goods to be received from wagons through two doors placed, as is the platform, on a level with the body of conveyances. The platform will serve the purpose of a very commodious stage. It has two private entrances, and in the basement there are retiring rooms with lavatory accommodation for both sexes, together with refreshment-rooms and storage room for chairs, benches etc. The hall, with the gallery and platform, will accommodate about 1,200 persons. The building externally, although of model architectural proportions, has a substantial appearance. The walls are built of local stone, lined internally with brick, and having terra-cotta and Forest of Dean stone dressings.
Today the hall is run by a community group and is proving to be very successful. Quite a few films have had their premier in the Market Hall Cinema and we look forward to many more in the years to come.
What an amazing place run by amazing people. Just went to see the Christmas showing of Its A Wonderful Life. Wow. £3.50 per person, a chain cinema would charge treble that. Singing and dancing before the show. Ive never seen anything like it. Definately doing this every year. Well done and Merry Christmas to everyone involved
- Market Square Brynmawr