Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Save The Coliseum – in Porthmadog

A tad further away than most of my subjects, but with good reason.

Pictured below is the Coliseum cinema located in Porthmadog, North Wales, opened in 1931 and of Art Deco styling (with many features apparently still surviving within), it seems it quickly gained a reputation for the quality of it sound system, described by the press of the day as “perfect”.

Coliseum Cinema Porthmadog

Coliseum cinema, Porthmadog © Jaggery CC via geograph (2012)

Fast forward through its years of success, it becomes significant when booked as the venue for screening rushes (in filmmaking, the raw, unedited footage viewed daily after being developed and printed) for a strange new television being produced by, and starring Patrick McGoohan – which would go (despite, or perhaps because of, its length of only 17 episodes) to become a cult television series still popular today.

This was, of course – The Prisoner.

The cinema was threatened with closure in 1983, but an appeal saw the local people raise enough money to keep it open, and in 1994 it received nearly new projectors when Barclays Bank Ltd closed it training centre and donated them to The Coliseum.

However, fast forward to 2011, and falling audience numbers meant that the cinema had to close its doors.

Worse news was to arrive 2014, when the group set up to save the cinema had its plans rejected by the Coliseum Shareholders, who voted to sell the property rather than grant a long-term lease to the Friends of The Coliseum.

As will be seen below, the agent’s description worryingly wastes little time in getting to the stock phrase: “suitable for all types of redevelopment“.

You can read the Friends’ story here:

Save the Coliseum

The Coliseum web page:

The Coliseum

The advert:

Property in High Street, Porthmadog, Gwynedd – Dafydd Hardy – North West Wales Leading Estate Agent


The property comprises an art-deco style cinema which was originally constructed in 1931. The cinema traded for many years and closed in 2010. The building can accommodate 500 people and includes both ground floor and balcony seating. There is a reception area, office, projection rooms and a basement within the cinema together with a large car park to the side. The property provides a site that is suitable for all types of redevelopment, subject to the necessary planning consents.

An account of its days when The Prisoner was being filmed:

Unmutual Prisoner Locations Guide – Coliseum, Porthmadoc (McGoohan/Portmeirion)

We used to see the Coliseum in the flesh until 1998, as we generally travelled down to Portmeirion (where most of the action was filmed) for the annual Prisoner Convention, but were obliged to give up this up after that date, and have never been able to get back. Due to our slightly odd travel arrangements (due to work commitments) we were never able to visit the Coliseum, where screening of selected episodes of the series were laid on for the conventions, together with related material.

Sadly, it’s hard to see what could be done by the Friends to save the cinema in the time available, as dwindling numbers are hard to convert.

The Internet has probably played a part, and we are in the same sort of scenario as seen by the cinema in the 1970s, when most closed, or were supplemented (or completely replaced, by use as bingo halls.

We can only watch and see what does, or does not, happen 300 miles away (that the door to door distance from where I am to Porthmadog) in North Wales.


March 2, 2014 - Posted by | Appeal | , , , ,

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