Showtime For Broadway Cinema Refurbishment

Building and refurbishment specialist Conamar has been appointed to deliver a £2.25million restoration, refurbishment and extension project as part of the creation of a new £3.5 million theatre at the iconic 1930s Broadway Cinema in Letchworth Garden City allowing it to offer theatrical performances as well as its usual film repertoire.

The independent cinema currently accommodates four screens in an original Art Deco building. Its refurbishment will centre on transforming the 450-seat Screen 1 to also offer theatrical performances, including new back stage areas and technical installations. Screens 2 and 3 – which each seat around 175 people – and Screen 4 (45 people) are also being refurbished, along with foyer and circulation areas including a new bar and new concessions.

Conamar’s role will involve delivering the scheme designed by architects McFarlane Latter, supported by renowned theatrical consultant Paul Covell in respect of theatre technical installations. In Screen 1, a new timber proscenium stage will be added with a suspended steel-framed lighting rig and new lighting gallery being installed in the roof void. New AV equipment, sound decks and sound absorption panels will be included and a new cinema screen above the stage will retain its cinematic capability. An air cooling system is also being installed in all auditoria.

A three storey steel-framed and brick-clad extension to the rear of the building – mirroring the current building’s style – will afford the Broadway Cinema around 300 sq m of extra space to accommodate this extra use. Dressing rooms will be located at stage level; there will be a green room on the intermediate mezzanine floor and a loading bay for goods and personnel. A substation is being built into the extension to cater for the additional electrical load of the new complex lighting and sound systems, and a heavy goods lift is also being installed.

The 28 week project is set to start on site at the end of February and the new facilities are planned to launch in autumn 2016.

John Lewis, Chief Executive of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, said: “The new theatre is a key part of our plans to revitalise Letchworth town centre, which has also led to the attraction of two major restaurants, restoration of retail and residential properties for our tenants and the creation of town centre RHS gardens.”

Neil Dower, Managing Director of Conamar, said: “This building is a much-loved, independent venue and is one of the things that makes Letchworth special – it’s important we preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

“Conamar will be providing a full range of services, including an extension, restoration and full refurbishment, as well as coordinating services and subcontractors, to keep this local landmark looking its best while offering a wider range of entertainment. The programme of work has been carefully designed to schedule all the different elements as efficiently as possible and by working closely with our client during the planning stage, we have been able to halve the amount of time the building will need to be closed, minimising upheaval for our client and its customers while these exciting plans are underway.”

Conamar was appointed following a competitive tender. The company also works with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation on its reactive maintenance projects.

Project team

Client: Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

Main Contractor: Conamar

Architect: McFarlane Latter

Theatrical Consultant: Paul Covell

Electrical subcontractor: Dicks Electrical

AV subcontractor: Northern Light