Excitement is Mounting

Kyle Macfarlane

We are Friends of the Broadway Prestwick, and our aim is to reopen the Broadway as an independent cinema, exciting multi-use venue, and inter-generational community hub.
The Broadway Cinema opened on 29th April 1935, and stood as a shining jewel in Prestwick’s crown for decades, before showing its last film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, on 20th November 1976. The Broadway of the future will capture the spirit and soul of the cinema’s golden age past, with heritage preservation at the forefront of everything we hope to achieve. By combining state-of-the-art cinema technology with a wonderfully evocative atmosphere in glorious Art Deco surroundings, we aim to transform the Broadway into one of Ayrshire’s prime entertainment venues.
The Broadway is one of the greatest surviving golden age cinemas in the country, with areas of the building standing as a time capsule, with original features, styling, and equipment still in place after an astonishing 88 years. Key areas of the Broadway will be brought back to their original design, fully restored for future generations, including our beautiful auditorium with an original capacity of 1,060. This year has been an incredible year for the project, laying the foundations for what’s to come in 2024 and beyond.
In April we signed an official licence agreement with Buzzworks, becoming legal occupants of the Broadway Cinema for the first time! We can’t thank Buzzworks enough for their incredible support of our organisation throughout, and this agreement represented a huge leap forward for the project, enabling us to step up our initial preservation work in the building and begin preparing for a major funding application now that the project met the necessary criteria.
Soon after in May, the second major announcement followed, in funding received from the Coastal Communities Fund for a new architectural firm to develop an all-new feasibility study and vision for the Broadway, based on the principles established in the project’s relaunch. We were then delighted to officially partner with the nation’s leading architects in heritage cinema and theatre restoration, Burrell Foley Fischer. Our lead architect is Faye Davies, supported by Callum Rae and Haodong Wu, and we are already hard at work together developing our initial concepts for the Broadway Cinema of the future.
The heritage aspect of our project is crucial and ever expanding and evolving. In the restoration of the Broadway, we will capture the soul of the Art Deco golden age cinema experience, breathing life back into the precious cinema-going memories of our past generations. We aim to preserve not only the Broadway’s history but the history of all cinemas across the country, in our nation’s first ever Museum of Scottish Cinemas. Cinema has played such a massive role in the cultural and built heritage of our country’s towns and cities, with Scotland once having the highest rate of cinema attendance per capita in Europe! Memories of intermission and usherettes, ice cream and high tea, and the art of showmanship from projectionists of the past will all be immortalised within the Broadway’s walls, to pass those memories on to our future generations.

The Broadway will become a very special place to watch all types of film. We were delighted to discover that our original Gaumont-Kalee Type 20 projectors are fully restorable to working condition! This with equipment received as heritage donations and our ongoing partnership with the Projected Picture Trust will ensure that the Broadway will open in a highly exclusive group of cinemas fully equipped for 35mm film shows, with aspirations to even include 70mm capability. These plans are incredibly exciting, as the world’s cinema landscape is beginning to evolve to place a higher emphasis once again on the importance of analogue film. Combining this capability with state-of-the-art digital projection, we will be able to carve a niche as one of the nation’s premier film-viewing destinations.
Another important aspect of the Broadway’s future is in the preservation of Scottish Gaelic. We plan to develop a voluntary Gaelic Language Plan, with the aim of becoming a leading Gaelic hub for Ayrshire, playing a significant role in the preservation of the language in Southern Scotland. We can create a venue for Gaelic language groups to interact and host events, with multiple collaborations and partnerships with leading Gaelic organisations on the horizon.
The latest major leap forward for the project has been the creation of The Broadway Pop-up Cinema Roadshow, and partnership with Indy Cinema Group. With Indy supporting our programming, we have been able to bring the latest blockbuster releases back to Prestwick for the first time since the Broadway showed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the last time 47 years ago!
We have settled at an excellent temporary venue, Prestwick Academy. With a 300+ seated auditorium, fully accessible foyer, and full stage and lighting facilities, we can create a wonderfully authentic cinema environment at our home away from home. Opening with the iconic Back to the Future trilogy, we have since brought a Halloween Film Festival, Barbie, and Oppenheimer to Prestwick, in a major milestone for the project. Our plans for the Roadshow are massive, as we aim to maintain a regular schedule of new releases in 2024 supported by a wide variety of vintage screenings, film festivals, and unique special events.
It is an incredibly exciting time to follow the project and we would love for you to join us! You can become a member of the Broadway on our official website and gain access to a wide range of exclusive benefits including discounted Roadshow tickets, a subscription to our monthly newsletter The Broadway Bugle, online members-only bonus exhibits, and more. We can’t wait to continue our journey with you and look forward to welcoming you through the Broadway’s doors for the first time upon grand re-opening in the future.
The cinema with a charm all its own.
All photographs shown in this article were taken by our official photographer, Gemma of Esther Morgan Photography.