THE charity responsible for bringing back an iconic Prestwick cinema has been granted a licence to occupy the building as it prepares for community ownership of the venue.

Friends of the Broadway Prestwick, the team behind the revival bid, signed a licence to occupy the Category C Listed building this week after being supported by hospitality group, Buzzworks Holdings.

The licence paves the way for obtaining the funding needed to restore the Broadway in its entirety as an exciting neighbourhood cinema, local venue, and inclusive community space. 

Kyle Macfarlane, one of the Directors of Friends of the Broadway Prestwick, said that with the building being closed and boarded over for “almost 20 years”, the license allows for a step forward in the building’s next chapter.

The National: [Left] The buildings stage interior photographed in 1930s [Right] Antique lights in current interior[Left] The buildings stage interior photographed in 1930s [Right] Antique lights in current interior (Image: Friends of The Broadway)

He added: “For some time the community have been wondering what is happening to the Broadway, and we are delighted to announce that we are now at a stage where we can apply for community ownership, thanks to the wonderful support we have received from Buzzworks.”

The Broadway opened its doors to audiences with a grand opening ceremony and the film The Barretts Of Wimpole Street on April 29, 1935.

The building operated as a cinema until the mid-1960s when it began a slow transition to bingo, before seeing a brief revival of cinema in 1976. The last-ever film shown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, showed in November that year. 

In 1983 the Broadway was converted into an amusement arcade and leisure facility with squash courts in the former auditorium and operated until 2003 as the Prestwick Leisure Centre.

Buzzworks took over the venue in 2005, with plans to turn it into a new hotel bar, restaurant, and nightclub. However, after several years applying for permissions and licences to do so, the bid was ultimately unsuccessful due to the building type and various other factors.

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Stuart Cairns, who is chair of Friends of the Broadway Prestwick, said research performed by Regional Screen Scotland shows that residents of towns and cities across the country put cinemas at the top of their wish list of leisure facilities they would like to have located in their area. 

Cairns added: “The neighbourhood cinema sector is growing. South Ayrshire is under-served by cinemas, and the evidence shows that audiences want something more local, more evocative, more inclusive, and more personal.” 

The chair also shared that Friends of the Broadway Prestwick is working with other successful venues and has been inspired by “the positive impacts on other local businesses, and the significant increases in retail footfall on Main Street. There is now a real chance of bringing these benefits to Prestwick.”