The Royal Air Force Station, St Athan is situated in South Wales between Barry and Cardiff, established in 1938 the RAF base remains open today. On the base is an original Astra Cinema, a common feature on many British military bases in the UK and overseas.
A fully functioning cinema that remains operational today for the use of servicemen and their families based at RAF St Athan alongside civilian employees on the base.
The ASTRA cinema at RAF St Athan is a sizeable cinema constructed within the amenities block, building number 534. With regular screenings of current films the cinema has been successful with servicemen and their families posted to the base for a number of years. The cinema opened in 1938, shortly after the base itself opened.
Originally operated by SKC, now renamed SSVC little is known of this cinema and information from the operators SSVC has been almost like trying to crack the codes within the official secrets act, perhaps they believe that the cold war is still active and information on the cinema, such as official opening dates and seating numbers together with screen size is only available on a need to know basis.
I tried several times to confirm information through email and letters with SSVC head office, almost all communications were ignored, eventually I was given the contact details and email address of the SKC/SSVC archivist who sounded promising, unfortunately he was taken ill, he indicated he would contact me once he recovered, regretfully he never contacted me again.
For many servicemen SKC/SSVC Astra and Globe cinemas were a welcome treat on bases, providing big screen entertainment in a traditional cinema especially built and operated for military personnel and their families. They were not a big secret and it was well known that these cinemas existed. Usually they consisted of an auditorium on one level, seating between 300 and 500, sometimes a little more or a little less depending on the size of the military base.
Operated by SKC/SVC these cinemas also employed volunteers, such as myself, who would work during their free time.
I’m continuing with my research on SKC/SSVC, albeit without assistance from the charity that operates these venues and welcome any information and/or photographs that other serving or ex servicemen/women might have that I can use. I’ve already received some information but more is welcome.
SKC ASTRA CINEMA
RAF ST ATHAN.
With very little information freely available on the cinemas that entertained those serving in the British Armed Forces, in the UK and overseas, we would welcome any information, documents, photographs, programmes etc that you might have to share here. Please email the webmaster, using the email link on our main menu index page.
You can add general comments in the guest book, also found on the main menu index page.
Welcome to an affectionate appraisal and tribute to the cinemas that entertained us in the South Eastern industrial valleys of Wales.
ROYAL AIR FORCE ST. ATHAN
Cinemas of the British Armed Forces in the UK and Overseas.