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World-famous Olympic Studios in Barnes to become boutique cinema
A famous recording studio has been snapped up by a Barnes businessman with dreams of turning it into a boutique cinema.
In its heyday, Olympic Studios was one of the top independent recording studios in the country with stars including the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, U2 and Oasis passing through its doors. But it closed in November 2008 after owners EMI said it was no longer viable.
The studios, in Church Road, Barnes, were sold earlier this year for a reported £3.5m.
Now it has emerged its new owners plan to turn the historic building into a two-screen cinema – re-creating its early life.
The building, which dates back to 1906, was originally called Byfeld Hall and was used as a centre of entertainment for the community. It later became a cinema.
But it has been closed to the public since the 60s when it became a recording studio.
On a website set up to promote the plans for Olympic Cinema its owners say: “Nobody likes change but we don’t like seeing the high street full of empty shops. We want nothing better than to see the area enhanced by the re-creation of its cinema.”
Although in its early stages it is hoped the building could be converted to have two screens, modelled on Studio 1 and 2 of the legendary recording studios.
The main screen would show new releases and 3D films, while the smaller screen would be used for arthouse and independent productions.
Residents currently have to travel to Richmond or Hammersmith to their nearest cinema.
The owners said: “I do think it could be amazing, not just for Barnes but for the whole area.
“We want to retain its architectural, musical and cinematic history.”
The owners said they had a great reaction from the community so far and were looking to offer investment opportunities in the business, as well as set up a membership scheme where people will be able to sign up for priority booking and invitations.
Murray Hedgcock, of Barnes and Mortlake History Society, said: “We are pleased to see anything like this, which has its roots in an older Barnes and an older part of the district, survive.
“I hope it gives the old Byfeld Hall a new lease of life.”
To find out more about membership and investment opportunities, visit olympic cinema.co.uk.
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