Historic cinema and Vinopolis to undergo major refurbishment


Two popular London venues are set to undergo multimillion-pound refurbishment and restoration projects, it has been announced.

The Regent Street cinema will be refitted with state of the art projection and sound, while Vinopolis in central London will be closing its wine tour to carry out a refurbishment project of its own.

Westminster University, which now owns the cinema, has raised half of the £5m it needs for the restoration project. It has received donations from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Quintin Hogg Trust and the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, which is linked to the MBI group of companies.

The university’s director of development, Sarah Carthew, said the redevelopment, which will see the cinema’s auditorium recapture its original late-Victorian style, will be completely different to the multiplexes in the West End. She said it would have competitively priced seats and a programme borrowing from the Regent Street cinema’s history.

The Regent Street cinema hosted the first moving-image film in the UK, but the building fell into disuse during the 1980s. Now the university hopes to restore it to its former glory and will hold an official launch event for the restoration project on Thursday, March 22.

As well as corporate donors, the university also hopes to gain support from members of the public. Donors could see their handprints in cement outside the building in recognition of their financial help.

Film producer Tim Bevan and Bafta winning film-maker Asif Kapadia are among the famous names to lend their support to the project.

Meanwhile, premier wine and food tasting experience company Vinopolis will be shutting its wine tour later this year while it embarks upon a multimillion-pound refurbishment project.

The wine tour, which is located alongside Borough Market in London’s Bankside area, is due to re-open in the autumn.

Visitors to the tour can sample wines, whiskies, cocktails and rum from all around the world, while there are also a number of opportunities to indulge in fine dining onsite.

Vinopolis managing director Lucy Haines said: “During the refurbishment, we can confirm that not only are the restaurants remaining open but we are still offering a wide selection of wine tasting experiences and events – such as our successful wine courses and masterclasses – under the guidance of our resident wine experts, Tom Forrest and Melanie Reeve.

“We have seven stunning event spaces on site, including the Great Halls, which remain open for private and corporate hire,” she concludes.