Behind The Scenes

I went out to Bath a while ago to look at a project – the refurbishment of a thirties deco cinema that had then been a bingo hall and was now an evangelical church.  It had this impressive, ceiling – a huge,  Hall of the Supreme Soviets affair with a central lighting detail.  A little tatty but packed a punch.  So impressive that I had to use photoshop photomerge to capture it all:

Who says the devil has all the best lighting details?

I was allowed up into the void above the ceiling.  Lots of flimsy planks and steel lattice walkways.  One wrong step and you would be through the plaster and racing down to your doom, somewhere between row D and G.  Just as humbling was the realisation that the whole plaster ceiling was held to this lattice by canvas ties – no steel cable, just twisted rags covered in pitch.  sheesh.

The cinema was built in 1934.  The outer shell and roof was a shuttered concrete construction – this involves a timber frame being built and concrete poured in like jelly;  the timber is then removed once the concrete is set and you have your building.  God, this buildering lark is easy peasy, ain’t it?  In 1934 they put a layer of newspaper between the timber and the poured concrete, probably to make it easier to remove the timber afterward.  High up, behind the fancy plaster ceiling, there was no need to make this look too finished and so the papers were left in place.

A  ghostly record of the weeks in 1934 when this being built.