The North Wales Society of Architects Summer Lecture

Stefanie will be giving the Summer Lecture for the North Wales Society of Architects this evening, at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestayn, as part of the RIBA Love Architecture Festival.  She will discuss the redevelopment of the Scala and our wider work over thirty years in the Cinema and Media Sector.

The building which currently forms the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, began life as the Town Hall for Prestatyn in North Wales.  It opened in July 1900 and within ten years began screening films.  In 1913 James Saronie took over the building and converted it to a full time cinema, showing the first colour film in 1915.  Saronie’s real name was James Roberts, but he changed it to Saronie as he felt that was more impressive in his work as a cinematographer.  In 1930, following a major refurbishment, the cinema screened its first ‘talkie’ and then three years later hosted the North Wales premier of the classic monster movie King Kong, with queues reportedly extending halfway up the high street.

Queuing for King Kong 1933
In 1963 Saronie ended his career, selling the Scala to Prestatyn Urban District Council, later to become Prestatyn Town Council.  The following year the building’s fascia and arches were covered with a ‘modern’ blue and green frontage and it continued to operate as a cinema until December 2000, when it was forced to close for safety reasons due to a deteriorating structural condition.

The 1960's facade prior to the 2009 refurbishment
In 2001 the ‘Friends of the Scala’ were set up to lobby councillors and get the cinema re-opened. Two years later Burrell Foley Fischer were commissioned to prepare designs for a two-screen cinema with community facilities, a visual arts gallery and a café bar.  By 2007 funding was finally secured with supporters including Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.  Councillor Paul Marfleet stating that “the Scala Arts Centre project plays a pivotal role in the regeneration of the town”.

The facade today
In February 2009 the refurbished and remodelled cinema and arts centre was reopened to the public.  It has been recognised with a number of awards including the RICS Awards Wales 2010 Community Benefit Award a Civic Trust Award 2010, National Panel Recognition and the Wales Action for Market Towns Awards 2011, Social and Community Category Award.