A partnership between Lambeth Council and Picturehouse Cinemas sees the exciting re-opening of the former West Norwood Library to bring a state-of-the-art four-screen cinema and library with added facilities to the community of West Norwood.
West Norwood Library and Picturehouse is a remodelling of the admired modernist building, featuring a new community room, hot food restaurant, cafe and bar for visitors of both the library and cinema. There are a total of 559 seats across four screens, the biggest of which comfortably seats 221 people and all screens feature state-of-the-art projection and sound.
Programming for the cinema will embrace mainstream blockbusters such as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Mary Poppins Returns, indie and arthouse hits such as Widows, Beautiful Boy and If Beale Street Could Talk as well as the regular carefully curated strands Picturehouse regulars know and love. These include Discover Tuesdays, Vintage Sundays and Screen Arts, which will bring the best of live theatre from around the world to West Norwood screens. The cinema will also host a range of community-focused, price-adjusted events including Big Scream, Toddler Time, free Student Screenings with E4 Slackers Club, Autism-Friendly, Dementia-Friendly and Silver Screen.
The building was first opened in 1969 by Princess Margaret, and many original features were inspired or have been retained including the sequence of flat and sloping roofs and beautiful brick and tile floors. What was once the main auditorium is now the largest of the four screens and retains its octagonal charm and elegant exposed steel and timber ceiling. The main lobby where the café and bar is located, has been created as a large, open and flowing space to seamlessly link the library and cinema areas.
The pretty courtyard is accessible from both the library and cinema and the terraced deck doubles up as a quaint amphitheatre with seating for outdoor events. The new Community Room, which includes a kitchenette, can accommodate up to 50 seats, and offers direct access to the rear courtyard.
In 1971, Stanley Kubrick shot scenes from his classic film A Clockwork Orange in and around the Library, and the architects have incorporated several visual nods to this piece of cinema history into the unique design of the building.
By purchasing a West Norwood Library and Picturehouse Membership, residents can etch their place in history by having their name inscribed on the specially-designed Founder Members’ Wall.
The partnership between Picturehouse and West Norwood Library was met with enthusiasm by residents, who sent letters in support of a new cinema and revival of the library. The £3m investment from Picturehouse has prevented the building from remaining vacant and in a state of disrepair and Picturehouse will be responsible for the cost of maintaining the building.
“I’m delighted that the West Norwood Library and Picturehouse is opening. It is going to provide the local community with a wonderful resource for learning, culture and entertainment, with a fully stocked and staffed town centre library with excellent facilities and technology alongside a cinema and bar, with community meeting space and employment opportunities. It’s taken a little longer than we had hoped but now it’s now ready to enjoy. It really is a huge piece of West Norwood social life will makes the area an even better place to live.” Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities & Culture
As well as creating approximately 25 new jobs, the venue will see increased opening times (54 hours a week, up from 42), an increase in computer stations, free Wi-Fi, a dedicated children’s area – all while offering the same capacity for books that it did before its closure. There will also be ample space for visitor bicycles to be locked up.
West Norwood Library and Picturehouse is fully wheelchair accessible with a lift and 3 disabled parking bays. Every screen will have an infrared system to play audio-described tracks (when provided by the film’s distributor). This offers voice commentary, through headphones provided, which describes the film to those who would benefit.
“It’s always been important for our cinemas to be at the heart of the neighbourhoods we open in and we’re excited to be working with the West Norwood Library to create a new and vibrant hub for this wonderful community. I hope Norwood residents will come and enjoy great cinema, explore the library and relax in our cafe, bar and restaurant.” – Clare Binns, Joint Managing Director of Picturehouse.
Buy a Founder Membership for West Norwood Library and Picurehouse here