• Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History
  • Our History

Broadway

Our History

Early days - Broadway’s seen its fair share of famous faces. But the one we commemorate with a plaque in our foyer is former apprentice pawnbroker William Booth. Back when our building was the Wesleyan Chapel, Booth was inspired by a preacher to devote his life to helping the poor. He moved to London and, in 1878, founded the Salvation Army.

During the inter-war years the chapel's Sunday School and Boys’ Brigade company flourished. But in 1947 the chapel struggled with the cost of a new roof and dwindling congregations led to closure in 1954.

The building was bought by Nottingham Co-operative Society. Their aim was to turn it into the country’s first Co-operative Educational Centre, complete with 500-seat theatre space and 35mm and 16mm projection facilities.

In 1957 the Nottingham & District Film Society merged with the Nottingham Co-operative Film Society. The newly formed Film Society began running monthly screenings of international and archive films in the auditorium of the Co-operative Educational Centre, which finally opened in 1959. In the same year, the Film Society began discussions with the British Film Institute (BFI) about gaining official status as a Regional Film Theatre.

On 22 September 1966 the Nottingham Film Theatre opened its doors to the public – the first in a wave of Regional Film Theatres to be established around the UK in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With BFI sponsorship it began screening films three days a month.

Broadway Cinema was born out of a consortium of four local media organisations: Nottingham Film Theatre; New Cinema Workshop; Midland Group; and Nottingham Video Project. With support from the BFI, East Midlands Arts, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, the building became the Broadway Cinema and had its first screening (Enemies - A love Story) on 31st August 1990.

Building development

14-18 Broad Street - The Broadway building we know and love has changed a lot since it opened as a regional film theatre in the 1960s.

The building was originally split between the chapel, which housed the cinema, and the church house, where the admin offices were. A New York-style alleyway ran between the buildings, and a homeless man slept on the fire escape.

Screen 1 had 534 seats. None of them were very comfortable.

The first screening as Broadway Cinema was on 31 August 1990. Since then, it has benefited from over £8 million of redevelopment funding.

In 1992 we improved the foyer, added disabled access and opened screen 2. The window in the wall of the CaféBar (posh name: ‘aedicule’) was created so that people coming out of screen 2 would see the bar in all its glory and be tempted to stay for a post-cinema drink.

Towards the end of the 90s we started letting out low-cost office space to artists and filmmakers, and merged with out biggest tenant, production and training company Intermedia.

Broadway continued to expand. In October 2006 we opened screen 3, screen 4 (designed by regular patron Sir Paul Smith) and the Mezz bar and lounge, as well as lots more work and education facilities.

Through all of this we’ve done our best to retain what it was that attracted people here in the first place.

Timelapse of the 2006 redevelopment of broadway

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Tim Cunningham

SOURCES

1 Quoted in The Life Of William Booth Volume 1 by Harold Begbie
2. An Itinerary of Nottingham by J Holland Walker.
Interesting events in the history of Hockley Chapel, Nottingham by John Snaith.
3. ‘In Every Generation: A Brief History of the Methodist Churches in Nottingham 1764-1978’ by Rowland C. Swift.
4. ‘Doing the Work of the NFT in Nottingham ’ – or How to Use the BFI to Beat the Communist Threat in Your Local Film Society' by Melanie Selfe
5. A Brief history of Broadway by Fred Brookes



the cooperative educational centre's first ever programme

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