Essoldo cinema set for Stretford return

A fresh guise of the 1930s Stretford cinema could find a semi-permanent home on the top floor of Stretford Mall car park, if plans from an outdoor events company are approved by the local council.

Spirit of the Essoldo, founded in 2019, has applied to use the fourth level of the shopping centre’s multistorey car park as a bar and outdoor cinema based on the Art Deco Essoldo cinema designed by Henry Elder, which opened in 1936. 

The space would “incorporate a range of leisure uses for local people” for a period of two years, according to a planning statement, and it follows a successful trial of a pop-up Spirit of the Essoldo cinema at Stretford Mall last March. 

Under the plans, a bar would be constructed alongside covered seating, with the lift shaft elevation used as a screen on to which to project films. The space would have capacity for 60 people and include community gardening and public art installations.

The company has asked that the permission last for two years, with the bar to be open for six months a year. 

If the plans are approved, Spirit of the Essoldo would screen films one weekend a month during the period.  

Spirit of the Essoldo is run by Heather Garlick, founder of The Sip Club, a Stretford bar located above an estate agent on the corner of Barton Road and Kings Way that has forged a strong reputation as a community hub. 

Last October, the car park at Stretford Mall was transformed into a temporary roller park for one day, another event organised by Garlick. 

The art deco Essoldo building was converted into a bingo hall in 1965 before closing for good 30 years later. 

Place North West reported in January that the building, which sits opposite the mall, could be revamped as part of the Stretford Mall masterplan being drawn up by Bruntwood.

An outline application for the regeneration of the area was scheduled for submission this summer, but has been pushed back due to the coronavirus lockdown and subsequent cancellation of a second consultation with the public.

The council and Bruntwood are exploring the option of an online consultation while social distancing measures remain in place.

Andrew Cooke, director of Manchester at Bruntwood Works said: “Heather and the team at Spirit of the Essoldo have held a number of successful community events at Stretford Mall over the past 12 months and along with our partners at Trafford Council we’re keen to support future events from the group.

“While subject to planning, the ideas outlined by Spirit of the Essoldo would add a new dimension to Stretford Mall, bring the largely unused car park into use and really complement the retail, food and leisure offer for the benefit of the whole community.”

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