Extract from today’s Manchester Confidential.
David Bond on the mystery behind the classic. Does anyone know anything more?
AN impressive monument to a bygone age that should be returned to its former glory or a bungled monstrosity that needs to be torn down?
The main architectural guide to Manchester calls The Longford, ‘One of the most entertaining sights in the Manchester area’. It would be a crying shame to lose it.
The debate surrounding the Longford cinema in Stretford is complex, but the only certainty is that local residents, have little to no idea what the future of the building is.
Confidential couldn’t even get in contact with the owner – and Good Lord did we try.
This is a problem because at present the Longford, despite its striking image, is fading. Commuters to Manchester and shoppers heading to Stretford Mall are reminded of this failed building daily. Yet inside it is a spectacular art deco building.
READ THE ARTICLE FROM MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL IN FULL HERE
Reproduced from the Sale & Altrincham and Stretford & Urmston Advertiser 11/05/11. Advertiser report Andy Buckley is stopping off on the A56 to tell your stories. This week he visits a landmark on Chester Road that’s hard to miss.
The Essoldo in Stretford is guaranteed to split opinion. Critics say it should have been knocked down years ago, its distinctive shape making it stick out like a sore thumb. For others it’s a reminder of a bygone age.
The owner, who lives in Sale, prefers to remain anonymous as a long running debate continues over its future. There has been speculation it may become a roller rink and recently the exterior was smartened up, fuelling hope that progress could be made, 16 years after it closed as a bingo hall. All appears to have gone quiet since the minor facelift, suggesting another long wait before the next move.
The art deco design started off as the Longford Cinema in 1936, its architect clearly having a sense of humour. It was built in the shape of a cash register as a symbol of the money generated by Hollywood. It was a revolution in design with under-seat heating and neon tube lighting. For a week every month it was used a s a theatre and a young Julie Andrews appeared there during the Second World War. In 1950 it became the Essoldo after a change in ownership and remained as a cinema until 1965, after which it was turned into a bingo hall. It was eventually sold off in 1997.
My friends and family have often made derogatory comments about the Essoldo, but for some, the building still retains a certain fascination. Matthew White set up a website dedicated to it – www.longfordcinema.co.uk .He said: “I was surprised by how many people from all over the world who used to live in Stretford got in touch with me. It was an incredibly unusual building and it’s sad that it’s been empty for so long. The facade was crumbling and it became invisible to the people of Stretford. I wanted to get people talking about it again. If it becomes a roller rink then I’ll be happy because it’ll get people back in the place again”.
There’s a new initiative in the making called The Place Station that is supporting the re development of the Longford Essoldo Cinema building in Stretford for community use. Check it out here.
The Place Station introduces owners of land and buildings across the UK to social and community entrepreneurs with ideas for transforming their local area – providing a space where people can:
- Search for land and buildings
- Add a Place they’d like to see owned and managed by the community
- Add an Idea for transforming local services
- Propose new uses for available land and buildings
- Comment on and offer to support an Idea or Proposal for a Place
- Find pro-bono supporters where they live to put their Ideas and Proposals into practice.
Vote for us – please!
Is Stretford’s Essoldo cinema the best thing about Chester Road? Does Altrincham Market deserve more recognition for its 700 year history? Or do you prefer the views from green spots like Dunham Massey, Walkden Gardens or Davyhulme Park? Whatever you think is the most iconic landmark, your Advertiser wants to hear from you.
Our editor Paul Harrison explained: “We would like to hear from you the readers about the places dear to you.
“It could be an eye-catching building, your favourite park, a clock tower which you can always rely on to tell you the time or a sculpture that makes your town centre stand out.
“We want to incorporate the most popular images in the masthead of our two newspapers – the Sale and Altrincham Advertiser and the Stretford and Urmston Advertiser.
“Once we have a shortlist we can put the finalists out to a public vote.”
If you have a suggestion you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put ‘Stretford and Urmston landmark’ or ‘Sale and Altrincham’ landmark in the subject field. Or you can write to us at ‘Landmark’, The Advertiser (Stretford and Urmston or Sale and Altrincham) at Mitchell Henry House, Hollinwood Avenue, Chadderton, OL9 8EF.
A letter about the Longford Essoldo cinema Stretford from a concerned resident as featured in todays Stretford Messenger paper.
Plan to restore cinema
April 09, 2010
A historic Art Deco cinema left crumbling for decades is to be renovated.
The Essoldo has stood empty since 1994, sparking outrage from people with fond memories of the Grade II listed landmark.
Campaigners who battled to save the Chester Road structure from further decay expressed delight work has finally begun. John Schofield, who can see the cinema, formerly called The Longford, from his bedroom, said: “It was the most luxurious cinema I have ever been in anywhere. It was very sad when it closed down. “I still have letters my wife wrote when I was in the forces saying ‘we must go to The Longford – we haven’t been in ages’. “It is an absolute eyesore at the moment so it would be wonderful if something could be done with it.”
The Essoldo’s owner, a Stretford businessman who wants to stay anonymous, said the building’s frontage will be made watertight and dilapidated side walls patched up. He added he hopes it will remain an entertainment venue. “There is a lot of work scheduled, including a complete repaint, but lately the weather has slowed us down a bit,” he said. “There are plans in the pipeline which we hope to be able to make progress on later in the year.”
Essoldo fan Matthew White, who runs http://www.longfordcinema.co.uk, described the work as ‘really encouraging’. He said: “Maybe it’s time for Stretford to get behind the owners and offer support.”
The Essoldo started life as The Longford Cinema in 1939. During the Second World War it was used for Sunday concerts involving various stars of stage and screen, including a young Julie Andrews, and also played host to the Hallé Orchestra when it was bombed out of the Free Trade Hall in 1940. In 1950 it was bought by The Essoldo Circuit, which ran it as a cinema until 1965.
It has subsequently opened as a bingo hall and club, before being sold again in 1997 to its present owner.
Click HERE to view the Channel M piece on the building. No new footage but still worth a look.
From the Stretford and Urmston Messenger. Here is the article in full. Let us know what you think.
THE future of one of Stretford’s most famous landmarks is safe according to it’s owner.
The Essoldo Theatre on the east side of Chester Road has been at the centre of much speculation since it closed in 1995.
The building was sold to a Sale business man in 1997 and he spoke to SUM to explain his plans. He said: “The building is in safe hands, it will not be demolished. There are plans to create a family orientated leisure centre that will be embraced by the whole community.
“Progress will be made by the end of the year on the visual appearance of the outside of the theatre.”
The news was welcomed by Matthew White founder of http://www.longfordcinema.co.uk, who has been campaigning to get the building back in working order. He said: “This is very good news, it is very encouraging, it would be interesting to know more about the time scale. “But it is still great the owner has said out loud that the building is not at risk, which was really our number one concern. We would like to say if there is anything we can do to help achieve the objective, then we are more than willing to speak to him, in the meantime we will continue to monitor the situation.”
A council spokesperson said: “We would welcome the Essoldo building being brought back into active public use, and would welcome an approach from its owner to discuss future plans.
“The Council considers that the best way of securing the upkeep of listed buildings is to keep them in use, which is in line with advice from the government and English Heritage.”
What are your thoughts on this. Do you think this will happen, is it the best use, would you use the facility? You can let us know by clicking on the comments link below.