Site of Castle Cinema, Caerphilly
Site of Castle Cinema, Market Street
The offices of Brinsons estate agents stand on the site of the Castle Cinema, once a popular institution for Caerphilly residents.
The cinema was built in 1913, providing more than 800 seats. It was badly damaged by fire on 3 October 1943. Thirty members of the National Fire Service dealt with the incident and managed to save the projectors, the stage and most of the seating, but a large part of the roof collapsed. Steel and other materials for repairs were scarce, because fighting the Second World War took priority. However, by October 1943 many American soldiers were billeted with families in Caerphilly as part of the build-up of people and equipment for the D-Day landings in 1944, when the Allies began to release France from Nazi occupation.
The Castle Cinema, and the nearby cinema at the Workmen’s Hall, provided the main entertainment for the Americans and local residents. The Castle Cinema was repaired after the manageress, Mrs Bonney, applied to the local authority which agreed to make a priority order, under the wartime regulations, for the materials required.
In December 1976 the controversial punk band The Sex Pistols played at the Castle Cinema. It had arranged a UK tour with other punk groups including The Clash, but most of the gigs were cancelled after local authorities bowed to public pressure. The small audience for The Sex Pistols in Caerphilly was outnumbered by protestors who sang Christmas carols and hymns outside the Castle Cinema. One of the councillors who took part later sent a letter to the band’s manager, Malcolm McLaren, apologising for attempting to tell young people what they should listen to.
The Castle Cinema closed in 1989 and was a snooker club until it was demolished for the site to be redeveloped as offices for Brinsons. The firm was established in Caerphilly in 1900 as chartered surveyors and estate agents, serving the agricultural community as well as mine managers and others associated with local industries. Today it also has an office in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.
With thanks to Dennis Sellwood of Caerphilly Local History Society
Postcode: CF83 1NX
Footnotes: Personal recollections of the Castle Cinema