HOBSON STREET IN the heart of Cambridge is one way and is used by traffic avoiding the pedestrianised section of Sidney Street. Hobson Street is lined with buildings of various ages. One of these, which has always attracted me, is a disused cinema whose facade has Art Deco features.
Built in about 1930 to replace an earlier cinema constructed in 1921, it was The Central Cinema. Its white tiled facade has Egyptian and Art Deco details.
In 1972, the cinema closed and was converted, as many other old cinemas have been, into a bingo hall. This establishment thrived until 2009 when the British government banned smoking in public places. Apart from three days when the building was occupied by squatters for 3 days, the old cinema has been boarded up and disused.
Various plans have been proposed for its future use, but none of them have been carried out. One of the problems is that because it is a protected edifice, any future plans have to preserve its original features. And as most of the new ideas for the old cinema involve adding windows, and adding them would infringe the protection order, all of the new plans have had to be abandoned. The protection order has saved the building but hindered its future development.