Alabama Cinema

150a Loop Street,
Cape Town 8000

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: African Consolidated Theatres

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The Alabama Cinema was situated on the corner of Loop Street and Pepper Street in central Cape Town and opened during the mid-1940’s. It was previously known as the “De Wicht” Hall.

This cinema served Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap community with convenient and affordable cinema entertainment, however it was to be closed in controversial circumstances.

The owners of the building which housed the Alabama Cinema had decided demolish the 112 year old building and build a commercial building on the site. Although the Alabama Cinema had been advised to close no later than 30th June 1984, the cinema continued to screen films to the Bo-Kaap communities.

The manager/owner of the Alabama Cinema then handed a 14,000 strong petition opposing the demolition of the building to the Mayor’s secretary.

In spite of a court order, she (the manager) refused entry to demolition crews until she had received a formal notice from the City Council asking her to vacate the premises.

A last ditch appeal to save the Alabama Cinema was considered by the City Council’s Executive Committee, but it found that it was not feasible.

On 10th July 1984, the sheriff/clerk of the court enforced the court order immediately evicting her from the premises. This happened during a film performance, and the feature being the film “Firepower”.

After the court order was served, the film was stopped and patrons were ordered to leave before builders started stripping the roof. Reels of film and other equipment were dumped on the street and the manager was detained as a “judgement debtor”.

Unfortunately after a courageous last stand the Alabama Cinema was demolished. The above incident was widely reported in the Cape Town newspapers at the time.

Contributed by M van der Leer

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

OTCF on August 29, 2014 at 1:18 am

The cinema’s name ‘Alabama’ was probably derived from an incident that occurred during the American Civil War.

On 7th August 1863, large crowds gathered on Signal Hill overlooking Cape Town and Table Bay, to see the arrival of the Confederated raider ‘Alabama’ with the captured Northern barque ‘Sea Bride'in tow.

The Alabama’s commander (Captain Raphael Semmes) and crew were welcomed by the people of Cape Town and the Alabama event later became a legend and eventually found its way into song.

In Cape Town especially in the Bo-Kaap (Upper Cape Town) the Cape Town Minstrels still sing their traditional song ‘Daar kom die Alabama’ (There comes the Alabama).

The Alabama Cinema was situated in the vicinity of the Bo-Kaap hence the name.

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