I reported in July 2012 that the Abbeydale Cinema, Sheffield had been bought by Phil Robins, the owner of The Edge [http://www.sheffieldclimbing.com/index.php], an indoor climbing centre near to Bramall Lane football ground.
Phil showed me round the Abbeydale last month and allowed me to photograph the improvements he’s so far made while making the building secure and weather-tight.
The two major changes he’s made are to lower the iron safety-curtain to its proper level, so that it can be seen in its entirety for the first time for many years, and to remove the partition that divided the balcony from the rest of the auditorium when the Abbeydale was used as an office-equipment showroom.
At present, therefore, it’s possible to see the entire auditorium space as it existed in the mid-1950s. The only feature that is not original is the false proscenium that was inserted when Cinemascope was installed. The sides of the narrower original 1920 classical-detailed proscenium are visible, but not the top which, according to the opening-night description in the Sheffield Independent, displayed “a chaste panel of Grecian figures on a background of pale blue”.
The original decorative scheme was pale and deep cream with gold; the 1920s proscenium is now a faded pale green trimmed with gold, and the rest of the auditorium is a strident concoction of blue, claret and cream. (The lighter colours now visible may, of course, be tempered with nicotine.)
Phil intends to restore the interior space as far as possible to its original state, and to install free-standing climbing equipment which will not affect the listed decorative features.