It’s always nice when one of our campaigns makes a real impact.
And the word is that after your massive support for our many stories on turning the former north London polytechnic into a picturehouse, several very respectable chains are about to pounce, include hip Bermondsey arthouse gaff Shortwave.
For the uninitiated, Shortwave is a 52 seat independent cinema and bar which screens “the best recent releases and previews of emerging filmmakers”. Since opening in SE1 in 2009, they’ve even hosted the London Short Film and Independent Film Festivals.
“I just thought I’d let you know ahead of everyone else,” said founder Rob earlier this week, “that, thanks to you and your readers, we are one of a handful hoping to open on the site on the corner of Prince of Wales Road. Our plan is simply for a small indie cinema with approx fifty seats and cafe bar.” Rob also explained that many years ago he studied at the poly, “so there would be an element of going full circle with things.”
As we have explained before, the historic site has a century-long association with the pictures. Before the polytechnic was built in 1929, Coronation Gardens, the park that existed opposite the old Palace on Prince of Wales Road, boasted a screen where Kentishtowners could enjoy a continuous stream of films in the open air. But alas the novelty soon wore off – blighted by the Great British Summer – and it ceased operating in 1913. (Interested in the history of local moviehouses? Do read more on this and the other seven Kentish Town cinemas in our recent 2000 word feature here.)
Of course the new screen – the first in 40 years – will be subject to planning being given consent; we also hear that Shortwave are one of several competitors, with Curzon and Picturehouse poised too (for the record we’ve heard nothing about either Everyman or Soho House). “But not many operators would be interested in a single screen cinema, as it’s pretty niche,” admits Rob.
We hope he gets the gig. And in the meantime, have you caught a glimpse of the rather polite squatters occupying the building?