Tag Archives: Brighton events

The story of the Brighton Astoria…

15 Feb

When I was growing up in Brighton I always kept my eye on the Brighton Astoria, with hopes and dreams that one day I would own it and run events of all sorts and develop it into a medium sized venue that I feel Brighton so badly needs.

Brighton has quite a few venues ranging in size (The Brighton Centre, Concorde 2, The Dome, Digital, Green Door Store, The Hanbury Ballroom and many more) but I do think there’s only either huge venues, or small venues available. The Astoria would have been that happy medium. As a stunning Art Deco Grade II listed building, the exterior and interior is incredible (albeit a little dilapidated now) and with a bit of sprucing up, could have been Brighton’s answer to the Troxy in East London.

Unfortunately though, last year a planning application was approved by the council to knock the lovely building down to build an office block. This planning application didn’t go down without a fight though. The Theatres Trust and the Cinema Theatre Association have fought to keep the building from being demolished but alas the battle was lost in January 2012. I was devastated to hear this, but unfortunately the building has lain derelict and rotting since 1996 and would cost £3.5m to repair to a reusable state. Saying this though, it’s been over a year since this application was approved and to my knowledge nothing has been activated as yet.

But, in ode to the stunning Brighton Astoria and its (potential) forthcoming demise, here’s a little information about its history and some incredible pictures from inside.

The Astoria opened on Thursday the 21st of December 1933 with a special programme including the National Anthem, speeches by Sir Cooper Rawson M.P., and the Mayor of Brighton; Margaret Hardy M.B.E., a showing of the Movietone News’ ‘Current Events’, T. Guy Hindell playing an Overture on the Theatre’s own Compton 3 manual Organ, a showing of ‘Interesting Items’ by Pathe Pictorial, Walt Disney’s ‘Santa’s Workshop’, and the main feature which was Charles Laughton in ‘The Private Life of Henry VIII.’

Originally built as a Super Cinema with stage facilities, the Theatre’s stage was rarely used and in 1958 it was closed off completely when renovations to the building included erecting a 70mm screen in front of the proscenium. The Theatre’s Compton Organ was also removed at this time, and the auditorium was mostly hidden by curtains. Also the Balcony stepping was altered and a new projection box was installed at the rear of the balcony.

The Astoria then went on to be a successful Cinema for many years until the 7th of May 1977 when it closed after the last showing of Barbra Streisand’s ‘A Star is Born.’

After the Astoria closed for Cinema use it was then converted for Bingo. This continued until 1996 as a Gala Bingo Hall but was then closed and the building was boarded up, and so it has remained since.

Such a sad story and I’ll be super upset to see it go! The Brighton Astoria will always hold a place in my heart x


Brighton Clubbing Scene

14 Feb

Am conducting some research on the Brighton Clubbing scene, with a hope to start up a night fairly soon. Anyone who lives in Brighton or people who regularly grace the Brighton scene are welcome to complete this short survey!


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