What is the fate of Wales’ oldest cinema?


Pictured above: Wales’ oldest cinema back in its heyday.

Market Hall Cinema, Brynmawr, is awaiting its latest results for air tests relating to the asbestos crisis.

Market Hall Cinema situated in the heart of Brynmawr, has had a tough old time of it recently. But the continued support from the community never ceases to amaze. In November of 2016, the 123 year old building was closed, for health and safety reasons, due to the discovery of possible asbestos in the area of which they were planning to build their second screen.

It’s fair to say it has been a bit of a rollercoaster for both the workers and the local community, as when there seems to be a little glimmer of hope, it is taken away. A recent example of this, on the 15th of March, it was posted to their page that a member of BGCBC suggested that the council are pushing hard to get the latest results of the air tests and that they should be made available to the necessary parties involved with the cinema the following day. However, this was short lived as a post was made the following day stating, “As you are by now aware, we haven’t been forwarded the results of the most recent air tests. Maybe we’ll get them tomorrow?”

Although optimism is paramount at this time, unfortunately, there has been no update in regards to this since.

This is not the first time that this historical building has faced the threat of closure, early into the year of 2013, the cinema was closed for a short period due to the local council retracting their funding. However, the residents of Blaenau Gwent quickly came together and hosted a local protest. It is evident just how much the local community value such an historical building, and due to the perseverance and commitment of the general public, Market Hall Cinema is now being funded through donations, fundraisers and local businesses.

Back in 2014 this little cinema was awarded the ‘UK Cinema of The Year’ award. It’s hard to believe that a year before receiving this award there was a possibility that the fate of the cinema could have resulted in permanent closure.

As briefly touched upon, the support system provided by all members of the community has been outstanding. Many people have come forth to share the memories and stories that they have of this local gem on the Market Hall Cinema Facebook page. One comment from local, Julian Bosley, reads as follows “Some of my best childhood memories were born at this wonderful cinema. I would scarper home full of new dreams and then lie in bed later with my imagination running absolute riot. Many Blaenau Gwent folk are neither able to travel to a Vue, or able to afford to watch a film at one, should they get there. The Market Hall is one of those rare and beautiful things that should be protected, rather than be allowed to perish, so let’s treasure it and demand that it be saved, rather than bear witness to yet another regrettable local extinction.”

Let’s hope that the fate of this cinema is that of a positive one, because if not, it is evident just how much of a negative impact it would have on the local community.