South East Wales

Brynmawr's Market Hall Cinema 'precarious' after asbestos find

Brynmawr Market Hall cinema Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph

One of Wales' oldest cinemas is in a "precarious position" after being shut due to historical asbestos issues, officials have said.

Brynmawr's Market Hall cinema was closed by Blaenau Gwent council in November after an inspection discovered an area of potential contamination.

The council said it was working to resolve the situation.

Cinema officials said it had been a "hugely difficult time" and they had lost £95,000.

Market Hall Cinema and Arts Trust spokesman Peter Watkins-Hughes said he had been "overwhelmed by the public outpouring of love and financial support" for the 123-year-old venue.

"It came as heck of a shock when the council told us that there might be material present that wasn't in the building records," he added.

"But obviously our customers' safety is our first priority, so we closed the venue until all the investigations and works are complete."

In 2013 the cinema was saved by volunteers after the council announced it could no longer afford to run it. The following year it was named 'UK Cinema of the Year'.

The cinema group operates under a tenancy licence agreement from the council.

Image copyright Eifion Lloyd Davies/ Stewart Williams
Image caption The cinema opened in 1894 and still has many original features

The council said it was working "towards a longer term arrangement" with the cinema.

A spokesman added: "The council and cinema group are continuing to work closely together to resolve the situation with the view to safely reopening as soon as possible."

Blaenau Gwent Alun Davies AM described the cinema as one of the "jewels in our crown".

He said: "The cinema is not only a much-loved facility, it is a key part of our heritage, the centre of our town and everyone wants to see it continue to thrive."

A £50,000 crowd funding appeal has been launched to save the building. Mr Watkins-Hughes said he was confident the building would soon reopen.

"It's been a hugely difficult time for us," he said.

"It is inconceivable that we won't reopen our doors again soon."

Image copyright Patrick Olner

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