Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Campaign - Whiteladies Picture House

Whiteladies Picture House classic
How the cinema appeared before its closure in 2001

At our branch meeting in May 2012, Alan Mandel-Butler and David Fells - joint directors of the Whiteladies Picture House Project - came to address the branch.

Their project's focus is the former cinema on Whiteladies Road in Bristol.

The Picture House was opened in 1921 and originally housed 1,300 people in the main auditorium and was built in the Art Deco style of the era with marble pillars and floors, an original sprung ballroom and the most incredible ornate plasterwork. Many of these original features still exist today. It ran successfully for 80 years before Odeon Cinemas closed it and placed a restrictive covenant on it, preventing it from being used as a cinema or for any theatrical means.

Whiteladies Picture House logo

However, the Whiteladies Picture House campaign are proposing to reopen the Picture House as a centre for the arts, where cinema, theatre, comedy and a multitude of different performing arts can thrive. 

Whiteladies Picture House now have an exclusive agreement that would remove the restrictive covenant if they are permitted to develop the site.

After hearing the amount of work that Alan and David have put into the project, the branch voted unanimously to support them.

At a City Development meeting in July 2012, the latest proposal put forward by Melinbrand, the site's current owner, for a flats and gym development was unanimously refused. Our own branch chair, Matthew Roberton, had addressed this meeting and we feel that our involvement had a significant impact on the decision. You can find an article covering these events by clicking here.

Following this meeting it was decided that the branch should write an open letter to the Development Management at Bristol City Council applauding their decision. Please find the letter by clicking here. Part of this letter was reproduced in the letter's page of The Bristol Post. A scan of the newspaper can be found here.

Despite the development application now being refused three times, the current owners of the site appealed the decision. 

The public enquiry into this appeal was heard in February 2013. An account of the inquiry can be found here:

The appeal was rejected in March 2013.

In July 2013, it was announced the adjoining Cowshed restaurant had been given permission to expand into the cinema's bar and cellar. This expansion opened in October of the same year (see image right).

Kickstarter campaign by Whiteladies Picture House in the summer of 2013 to raise £10,000 was highly successful and reached 114% of its target. This money was raised to commission surveys of The Whiteladies Picture House in order to produce architectural artwork that will help save the building.

In January 2014, Melinbrand annouched its plans to restore the building to a three-screen cinema, however there is no indication that they intend to collaborate with the Whiteladies Picture House campaign group.
The former cinema as it currently appears.
(image: Bristol Culture)


27/10/10 - Let's bring old cinema to life as a theatre - Bristol Post

12/02/12 - Whiteladies Picture House cinema memories sought - BBC News

12/06/12 - Save the Whiteladies Picture House - Bristol Culture

20/06/12 - Petition calls for Whiteladies Picture House cinema restoration - BBC News

27/12/12 - Bid to restore cinema before final credits roll - Bristol Post

28/06/12 - WHITELADIES PICTURE HOUSE: Report from Council Meeting - Equity - Bristol & West General Branch

04/07/12 - Whiteladies Picture House campaign receives boost - BBC News

26/07/12 - Whiteladies Picture House flats and gym plan rejected - BBC News

30/07/12 - Chink of light for cinema campaign as flats and gym plan is rejected - Bristol Post

15/08/12 - Branch's letter re. WHITELADIES PICTURE HOUSE in The Post - Equity - Bristol & West General Branch

17/08/12 - Letter from our branch: Redevelop this cinema for arts - Bristol Post

09/12/12 - Whiteladies Picture House: Inquiry to rule on flats plan - BBC News

Q&A: Whiteladies Picture House debate - BBC News

08/01/13 - Whiteladies Road Picture House public enquiry starts today - Bristol Culture

Whiteladies Picture House: Inspector to rule on cinema's fate - BBC News

29/01/12 - 
The future of Whiteladies Picture House - Bristol Culture

29/02/13 - Whiteladies Picture House development appeal rejected - BBC News

28/03/13 - 
Whiteladies Picture House future unclear - Bristol Culture

02/06/13 - Kickstarter campaign to save Whiteladies Picture House - Bristol Culture

05/06/13 - Appeal to save Whiteladies Picture House off to flying start - Bristol Post

25/06/13 - Whiteladies cinema campaign hits fundraising target - Bristol Post

26/06/13 - Whiteladies Picture House campaign meets survey-funding target - BBC News

26/06/13 - 
Whiteladies Picture House Kickstarter campaigner hits target - Bristol Culture

26/06/13 - Whiteladies cinema 'could reopen within months' - Bristol Post

24/07/13 - Whiteladies Picture House bar and cellar to be taken over by restaurant - BBC News

12/10/13 - 
The Cowshed doubles in size - Bristol Culture

17/10/13 - Campaign Update - Whiteladies Picture House

13/01/14 - Coming soon...Restored Whiteladies Road cinema in Bristol may open in 2015 - Bristol Post

13/01/14 - 
Reponse to Medinbrand’s Planning Application - Whiteladies Picture House

16/01/14 - Mixed reaction to plan for former ABC Cinema on Whiteladies Road, Bristol - Bristol Post