Art Deco cinema takes on new life as artisan shopping hub in Whitehead

An Art Deco cinema in the seaside town of Whitehead has been transformed into a new artisan retail location as part of a radical revamp of the town’s Community Centre.

The Kings Road project is nearing completion, explains Martin Clarke, Whitehead Community Association (WCA) Chairman.

“The revamping of the Kings Road site will see the opening of three “new start” artisan shops, a renovation of a local food takeaway and new offices for Whitehead Community Association”, he said.

“As well as providing a much-needed shot in the arm to Whitehead’s main thoroughfare, we are aiming to make the town more attractive today visitors, making Whitehead, not just a “go-to” but a “stay in” place.

“We want visitors to spend a morning, an afternoon, or even a whole day exploring our vibrant and beautiful town. Whitehead has changed almost beyond recognition in recent years. The Kings Road project marks, we hope, a significant step forward in the social, cultural and economic life of the town.

“Of course, we could not have even contemplated such a large-scale renovation without financial support from the Coastal Communities Fund and from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. We thank them.

“We consulted widely with the people of Whitehead, seeking letters of support from local churches and groups, conducting online and paper surveys as well as, of course, talking with people face to face. Their support has been incredible and unwavering.”

As befitting the Centre’s origin, the new units and street landscaping are fitted out in a classic cinema Art Deco style.

The new shops moving in are Things Bright & Beautiful; Artisan Style and art and craft gallery 2020.

Things Bright & Beautiful Owner, Liz Reyner, said: “This is a brand-new venture for me. I am delighted to lease the shop from Whitehead Community Association and I want to support WCA by taking an active part in their community activities and by supporting local events and charities.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Vicki Foster of 2020 Art, who said: “The Community Centre have created a lovely retail space for our new business venture. We can’t wait to get more deeply involved in the social life of the town.”

Lesley Lowry of Artisan Style added: “It is such an amazing opportunity to bring my dream of opening a wee artisan shop featuring Northern Ireland makers to reality. Whitehead is a welcoming and friendly community that I am very pleased to become part of it.”

The redevelopment project will also feature new office space, where it is planned to house an Information Centre and Community Hub.

The official opening has been delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but the Community Association is looking forward to the day when they can celebrate with the local community.

For more information contact Rosemary Allen, Centre Manager, Whitehead Community Association: Tel: 02893378077/Email: wca@whitehead-ni.com

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