Hither Green Hall

Hither Green Hall in its heyday

Hither Green residents are campaigning to restore the former Park Cinema to its former glory and its role in the heart of the local community. They say:

This former cinema is now an empty shell at the heart of Hither Green that is crying out to be filled with life. There is nowhere in Hither Green with bigger potential of success as a centre for arts and performances, complementing the high street and bringing this community to the next level.

The building will be put up for sale on March 30th and the group hopes to find investors with the vision to run it as an enterprise, rather than turn it in to flats. Tonight, the building's plight was featured on BBC London News and the campaigners hope an enlightened bidder will be found.


Anonymous said...

Excellent idea...even if just run by volunteers.

BTW did Hither Green ever have a Heyday?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately in the present climate it might be hard to get a buyer who dosent want to turn it into flats,maybe the Hill with a veiw People could look into it.

Lou Baker said...

By 'enlightened bidder' they presumably mean rich person with more money than sense.

Someone prepared to subsidise a loss making venture.

max said...

Or an entrepenuer who wants to open a cinema in walking distance of tens of thousands of people that don't have one.

Cinemas make money everywhere, they're welcome here too.

max said...

And the state of the residential market makes it more possible now as it's less profitable so they wouldn't bid as much for the building.

Lou Baker said...

Not true.

The cinema industry is fickle and many - if not most - do not make much money from ticket sales.

It's pop corn, drinks and sweets which make the cash. But with a small establishment it's difficult to sell the necessary volume to maintain the business.

I am very pro business and entrepreneurialism - but some ideas remain ideas for a reason. And this sounds like one of them.

max said...

You say it's fickle some other say it's resiliant because it offers a relatively cheap enteteinment attractive even in times of crisis.
Sure you need a proper mix of offer there, and I believe it can be done.
The area has been improving and needs a decent restaurant on Hither Green Lane for example, and that's the best spot by a mile. If that would be in the mix it would generate a good income and the two activities would help each other.

Brockley Nick said...


For me, an enlightened bidder is someone who understands that there are other ways to make money other than just destroying the character of any building they buy and someone who is not focused on the desire to convert every building in to small, poorly-built flats, to the exclusion of all other possibilities.

Some small cinemas do make money, but I'm sure if it can't work as a cinema, there would be lots of other interesting uses it could be put to.

Matt-Z said...

@ Lous

The Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise is a small outfit that makes money, in fact as a social enterprise it manages to also support a good cause.


I've been a couple of times and it's a great place to watch a film. Something like that round these parts would go down a storm.

max said...

Indeed, we put this building to the attention of cinema operators because you could fit two screens and a restaurant and there's a gap in the market for both, but there surely are other business models that could work well there.

It's a great location with big potential and it's going to auction next Wednesday.

The area has been improving steadily for a while now (three cafes have recently opened on Hither Green Lane and are all doing well), transports are excellent and it's in walking distance of both Catford and Lewisham Town centres.

Anyone that wants to snatch it at auction to do something good with it is warmly invited to take a good look at it.

Lou Baker said...


I'm not suggesting it should be turned into flats.

And I've never been in the building so I don't know how big it is.

But the cinema industry is a deceptively tough one. And the smaller you the harder it is to survive.

As I said I'm as pro-business as it gets. But a successful business needs to make a return - and asking for an 'enlightened bidder' doesn't demonstrate much faith.

Lou Baker said...

That said - as with most business ventures* - I wish it success.

* business venture does not include anything that uses the words 'social and enterprise' as a description.

max said...

Fact is that there are smaller cinemas that do well.

Larger ones benefit from economies of scale, smaller ones need to be more clever than that, an easy way to be clever is to choose the right location.

At risk of stating the obvious but to open a large cinema you need a large capital, to open a small one you need a smaller capital.
This is an opportunity that's available to a lot of people rather than a few corporations.

Anonymous said...

If it is done properly it could be used as a concert venue too.but they would have to get planning permission first.

max said...

You're ok Lou, we all need a bit of devil's advocate.

Anonymous said...

As there is not a Cinema in Lewisham Borough it would benefit the other shops on Hither Green Lane too.

Lou Baker said...


One of the problems that small cinemas have is that they simply don't have the capacity to satisfy the demand. On any given week 3 maybe 4 'cinema' films come out. A two screen cinema can't show half of those. Which ones do you drop? Why would anyone come to you when there's a multiplex with a full range of choice just down the road?

It's a very hard business to make work. But some do it successfully - so good luck to you.

PS: Can you put Ghostbusters on?

max said...

I call that the perfect excuse to drop crap films on release and satisfy the descerning audience (and its crave for Ghostbuster).

The nearest large multiplex is quite a long way away actually, the nearest cinema is Greenwhich Picturehouse with 4 screens, but one on Hither Green Lane would still be in much easier reach for a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

Or the Fabulous Baker Boys.

Anonymous said...

Surely Misery is Lou's favourite film?

max said...

Well, matinees and late showings can show repertoire and specific interest films alongside mainstream new releases during peak times, many cinemas do that.

But Lou is correct in the sense that distributors dictate conditions forcing cinemas to show new releases for a minimum period (2 weeks I think) so with 2 screens you can only have a new film every week if you show new releases on both screens.

I was told that a model that works well for two screens is to have one new release on one screen and a different offer (often a good film of last season that flopped at box office becasuse of competition of better marketed films but that now people would like to see after reading good reviews).

max said...

I've just been told that the BBC London report on this will be on at lunchtime news at 1:30pm on BBC1.

max said...


Anonymous said...

Although trailed in the main 1pm news the report appeared in the 6:30pm bulletin.

Something that hasn't been mentioned is the art gallery on Hither Green Lane, which doubles as a coffee shop.

With the positive words about the Station Pub and likely change of hands and the new mews being created, these could be interesting times for Hither Green.

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