Old cinema is reduced to rubble

Demolition of the Carlton Cinema in Cosham High Street.
Demolition of the Carlton Cinema in Cosham High Street.
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THIS is all that’s left of a city cinema which entertained film-lovers for more than 70 years.

The Carlton Cinema has stood in Cosham’s High Street since 1937, but now it has been reduced to rubble after repeated break-ins and acts of vandalism forced owners to knock it down.

Originally known as the Carlton Super Cinema, the classic building was opened by 30s musical star Jack Buchanan, and has seen numerous campaigns to stop it from becoming just another block of flats.

At least until 2007, when economic pressures finally did what a direct hit during the Blitz couldn’t – put the Carlton out of business for good.

So finally Surrey-based owner and property developer David Webber took the decision that the derelict building was too much of a hazard to stay standing.

He said: ‘It has been broken into many times, and people have even gone around taking pictures and put them on the internet.

‘Sadly it was just a matter of time until someone injured themselves, because when it fell into disrepair it became an incredibly dangerous building.

‘I had to act to prevent anyone getting killed.’

He insists that it was only after three companies in eight years tried to make a profit from the cinema that he finally decided to demolish it.

‘They all ended up unable to pay their rent,’ he said. ‘It’s just a sad fact that not enough people were going to see films there.

‘I would like to have owned it as a cinema but it just wasn’t economically viable.’

But Cosham councillor Terry Henderson said it was a shame to lose such an iconic building – adding that any damage was down to the building sitting empty.

‘I think it’s very sad that it has gone,’ he said. ‘People used to really enjoy going to see films there and I think it is a great loss to the area.

‘But when you leave a building like that vacant for ages then it becomes a target for vandals.

‘I would definitely hope that whatever the owner intends to do with the land is done soon.

‘No one wants to see the site sitting idle and being wasted.’

Mr Webber told The News plans are being drawn up to build a row of shops underneath houses where the cinema used to stand, and that work should begin before the end of the year.

Former News historian, Ron Brown, said: ‘At one time Portsmouth had as many as 30 cinemas, now the city has just three.

‘The Carlton Cinema was a popular landmark and will be much missed.’