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Functions: Community Center
Previous Names: Workmen's Hall, Cinema, Glenboi Cinema
Located in Abercwmboi, a village to the south of Aberdare, Glamorganshire. The Workmen’s Hall was built in 1913, part of a leisure provision for workers at the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company. According to British Listed buildings website, the Grade II Listed hall was used as a cinema until a fire in 1966. There is no listing in the Kinematograph Yearbook 1915, but one source maintains that Moses Freedman started presenting film shows at the hall from 1919. Indeed, a Cinema in Abercwmboi (with no address) is included in the 1923 edition on the Kinematograph Yearbook, the next edition I have access to. The entry records the proprietor and resident manager as M. Freedman and there was one show nightly.
The same listed information continued until at least the 1940 edition of Kine Yearbook. I do not have access to the 1941 edition, and there is no listing for Abercwmboi in the 1942 edition (or subsequently. However, from the 1946 edition of Kine Yearbook there is a listing for the Glenboi Cinema under the town of Aberdare. This is believed to be the re-opened Workmen’s Hall.
The proprietors were Glendare Cinema Company of Cardiff. An RCA sound system was being used and the proscenium was 28ft wide. There were 519-seats. It was still listed as open in 1959, but had closed by 1963.
In January 1991 it was announced that Ian Knock, the final projectionist at the Rex Cinema, Aberdare (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures), who lives in the same street, would be spending £30,000 to reopen the Glenboi Cinema. It seems that the Workmen’s Hall had become very dilapidated. with no heating or toilets. (In 1993, Ian remarked the “cinema area had been lying empty for 10 years, suggesting a closure around 1983).
Ian had hoped to re-open the cinema in February 1992. However, with the project finally costing him nearer £35,000 (plus financial assistance from the local authority and the Merthyr Aberdare Development agency, which brought the total spend to around £50,000) the renamed 280-seat Capitol Cinema did not open until Friday 24th November 1995. “Apollo 13” starring Tom Hanks was the opening presentation and Cynon Valley Member of Parliament Ann Clwyd officiated. To add to the confusion, newspaper reports stated that the Glenboi Cinema had closed in 1970! The full refurbishment, delayed due to what Ian described as “minor construction problems”, had included the installation of central heating, a raked floor and new seating. The screen measured 24ft by 11ft and Kalee 21 projectors had been installed.
Sadly, the Capitol Cinema didn’t last very long as it was closed in the early-2000’s.
The Workmen’s Hall continues to serve the local community, now operated by a charity.
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