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Christian Centre

A Grade II* Listed Building in Bath, Bath and North East Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3786 / 51°22'43"N

Longitude: -2.3606 / 2°21'38"W

OS Eastings: 374999

OS Northings: 164461

OS Grid: ST749644

Mapcode National: GBR 0QH.J0N

Mapcode Global: VH96M.1LDZ

Plus Code: 9C3V9JHQ+FQ

Entry Name: Christian Centre

Listing Date: 20 November 2000

Last Amended: 15 October 2010

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1394832

English Heritage Legacy ID: 510239

Also known as: Forum Cinema

ID on this website: 101394832

Location: Lyncombe Hill, Bath and North East Somerset, Somerset, BA1

County: Bath and North East Somerset

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bath

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Tagged with: Cinema Church building Bingo hall Arts centre

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ST JAMES'S PARADE (south west side)

(Formerly listed as Southgate Street,
The Forum including Nos 1-5 Forum Buildings)

Includes: SOUTHGATE STREET, Christian Centre

Cinema and theatre, now Christian centre with retail to ground floor. 1934 by W.H. Watkins and E. Morgan Wilmott, assisted by A. Stuart Gray. Hybrid Moderne-classical style.
MATERIALS: Steel-framed, with Bath stone cladding and brick internal walls. Hollow concrete floors, asphalt roof covering. Metal windows.
EXTERIOR: Classical façade with tetrastyle Corinthian corner entrance with attached columns to first and second floors; seven bay returns to Southgate Street and St James¿s Parade incorporating shops at ground floor level: that to No.4 St James¿s Parade retains its original shopfront and internal features. Large first floor windows form balcony lounge and stalls foyer.
INTERIOR: Entrance vestibule and hall with fluted pilasters, terrazzo floors, veneered doors and panelled dado. First floor foyer with tall vases decorated with French-inspired Moderne motifs. Former café with panels of figural groups. Auditorium with wide free-spanning balcony conceals lighting from rim of central auditorium dome with sunray burst to centre. Spandrels bear heraldic shields of Taunton, Wells, Glastonbury and Cirencester. Classical decoration to auditorium with figural friezes on side walls; ornamental grilles flank proscenium arch, with concealed lighting coves. Arms of City of Bath surmount arch. Pendant lighting with elaborate Art Deco candelabra. Upper floor was a ballroom with a sprung floor and engaged columns.
HISTORY: The Forum was built as a theatre/cinema by Watkins, a West Country specialist in cinema design: this is his best-preserved building. It had a capacity of 1600.
The complex roof structure, with its system of cantilevered roof trusses to carry the balcony, incorporated innovative design features. Its stage was shallow and lacked a fly-tower but could still be used for live performances.
It was converted to bingo in the early 1960s and closed down in 1966. A scheme to convert the ground floor to retail use was put forward in 1986 and in 1988 the interior was restored by Nicholas Stubbs architects when the building was adapted for use as an evangelical Christian centre. It is nonetheless an exceptionally complete example of an Art Deco cinema, with an elaborate and carefully preserved auditorium. It is the best surviving example of the work of William Henry Watkins, the finest specialist cinema architect working in the South West.
SOURCES: John Earl & Michael Sell eds., 'The Theatres Trust Guide to British Cinemas 1750-1950' (2000), 9.

Listing NGR: ST7499964461

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