Third cinema bid for Hackney: Pillow pair plan to resurrect The Castle in Chatsworth Road

PUBLISHED: 17:04 02 March 2016 | UPDATED: 08:57 03 March 2016

The Castle, photo Dusashenka

The Castle, photo Dusashenka


Hackney could be in line for a third cinema by the summer if a £45,000 campaign to resurrect an Edwardian picture palace is successful.

The proscenium arch inside The Castle The proscenium arch inside The Castle

Asher Charman and Danielle Swift, who have been running pop-up cinema events under the guise of Pillow for the last couple of years and Hot Tub Cinema since 2012, want people to chip in to their Crowdfunder campaign so they can re-open The Castle in Chatsworth Road as a permanent base.

If successful, it will become one of only two independent cinemas in Hackney, alongside the Rio in Dalston.

Although the Rio has been struggling in recent years - with a warning two years ago it could face the final curtain if its profits did not pick up - Mr Charman firmly believes there would be demand for a third cinema in the borough.

“What we are offering is quite different,” he said, “It’s going to be modest – in the region of 60 seats, which will make for an intimate, cosy experience.

Asher and Dee inside The Castle Asher and Dee inside The Castle

“The space is beautiful. There are so many features that are reminders of the building’s heritage as a cinema.

“We will go for a vintage feel in the auditorium – we are going to get some fantastic seats. Unfortunately, there are so many cinemas dismantled and turned into other uses there’s an abundance of old furniture.”

Along with mainstream blockbusters, the screen – which shut nearly six decades ago – will show art house movies, foreign language films and well-loved classics, as well as being a platform for local filmmakers to screen their works.

The original cinema opened as The Castle Electric Theatre in 1913, and ran until 1958 when it became a bingo club and snooker hall.

It fell into disrepair until 2014 when Walthamstow-based shop and restaurant owners Eat17 took it on, who now run an organic grocery store on the ground floor and a bar upstairs.

With the ground floor back in use, Mr Chapman and Ms Swift approached Eat17 with the idea of reopening the first floor as a cinema, suggesting Pillow would take over running the upstairs bar.

The £45,000 they aim to raise through their crowdfunding campaign will pay for equipment like a cinema system and restoring the empty space into a fully functional auditorium, including seats and lighting.

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