The transformation of Port Talbot’s former Plaza Cinema – which inspired the town’s famous trio of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton and Michael Sheen – is entering its final stages.
Construction firm BAM has been commissioned by Neath Port Talbot Council to transform the once dilapidated building into a community hub with a café, gym, office space, hall, multi-purpose rooms, a conference area, digital recording studio and shops.
A large part of the structural work in the project has now been carried out and it is hoped the project could be completed by the end of 2021.
The redevelopment preserves the much admired modernist, art-deco frontage of the Grade II listed Plaza Cinema building, giving it a striking, eye catching appearance.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Cllr Annette Wingrave, said: “This is a very important project for Port Talbot as it serves as a reminder of Port Talbot’s unique ability as a relatively small town to produce some of the world’s best known actors with Sir Anthony Hopkins – after picking up his second Oscar earlier this year – now revered by some as ‘The World’s greatest living actor’.
“The new Plaza is also a continuation of the redevelopment of the eastern side of Port Talbot’s town centre which has seen a new transport hub established and the building of the flats and shops complex, Ty’r Orsaf, on the site of the former Port Talbot Police Station.
“The area forms one of the gateways into the developing Harbourside area of Port Talbot on the town’s former docklands which is an extremely important site for future inward investment in Neath Port Talbot.”
Legendary actor Richard Burton, who was born in Pontrhydyfen and who later lived in Taibach, was a regular at the Plaza which opened in 1940 and one of his favourite Hollywood stars was Humphrey Bogart. The two later became friends.
Hopkins, who grew up in Margam, was also a regular visitor to the Plaza which closed in 1999.
In 2017, Michael Sheen (from Baglan) who was also a regular Plaza-goer, produced a BBC Radio Four documentary on the cinema entitled Port Talbot Paradiso with contributions from the likes of actor, writer and panel show host Rob Brydon (who also hails from Baglan).