National Civilian WWll Memorial Trust
BLITZED PICTURE THEATRE LISTED
Issued 1st February 2007
The bombed ruins of the former National Picture Theatre in Hull have been Grade II listed following a campaign by the National Civilian WWll Memorial Trust and other interested groups.
The Nation Picture Theatre, on Beverley Road in Hull, took a direct hit on the night of 18 March 1941 during a heavy bombing raid. When the air-raid alarm sounded the audience was enjoying Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator. Remarkably all of the 150 people that took shelter in the foyer of the cinema escaped unharmed.
What's left now is a grand classical façade concealing the stark remains of the foyer, stair turrets and booking office.
It has been listed Grade II by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, following advice from English Heritage.
Keith Miller, Ancient Monument Inspector for English Heritage said: "Only a handful of ruined WWll buildings remain in the UK. Most of them are churches (the one in York is the only other blitzed ruin to survive in the north of England) or military structures. The Hull cinema is the only blitzed civilian building left standing and is largely unaltered, making it nationally significant."
"Together with London, Hull was the most heavily bombed city in the UK, with 95% of its houses damaged. It endured the first daylight raid of the war and the last piloted air raid. The fact that the newly listed building is a cinema gives it added resonance, in view of the part played by picture houses in the war effort and in popular culture of the time."
The importance of the ruined building was described by Peter Beacham, Head of Heritage Protection (i.e. Head of Listing) at English Heritage, in his assessment report as: "The historic interest is so strong that the building merits listing because of its iconic importance in the history of the conflict in the C20. Hull Suffered arguably more grievously than any other English city from bombing during the 1939-45 War, and this building is an eloquent testimony to the period that is of outstanding local but indisputably national interest. More than 60 years later, the handful of sites and buildings that are witness to the Second World War are of more significance than ever, and the National Picture Theatre in Hull deserves to be recognised as one of the most powerful reminders of one of the most formative periods in the C20."
The National Civilian WWII Memorial Trust in Hull has campaigned since its formation in 2001 for the site to be preserved: Tom Robinson, Chairman of the Trust, said: "The cinema is a tangible reminder of a tumultuous time, both for the city and nation. We'd like to see the ruins consolidated to stop them crumbling away and an area created where the auditorium stood that could be used for educational visits and a place for quiet reflection. That would be a fitting memorial to the spirit and fortitude of ordinary people across the nation who also served during those dark days, such as fire-fighters, nurses and the WRVS."