The Southampton building firm Brazier and Sons had its origins in a plumbing business based in Wilton in 1799. This business was transferred to Southampton by Daniel Brazier in the 1840s, probably because Southampton was fast expanding town and offered greater scope for plumbing work. An advert in Adams Guide of 1898 shows them to be still almost an exclusively a plumbing business although they also offer ‘cheap paper hanging’. They had premises at 32 Canal Walk, Rose Road and Portswood Road.
It was the fifth generation Walter Brazier who in 1916 transformed the business into a general building firm, specialising in the construction of cinemas. In 1934-35 they built the 2000-seat ABC Forum Cinema and shopping complex on the corner of Above Bar Street and Civic Centre Road. The complex still stands (image below), although the cinema has been converted to a public house / night club. The firm quickly established a reputation for the quality and speed of their workmanship and were contracted to build ABC cinemas across southern England. Other Southampton cinemas built by the firm include the Savoy at Swaythling, The Ritz at Bitterne and the Classic in Above Bar. In the post-war years, with the classic age of cinema over, the firm expanded their operations to include the building of schools, shops, offices and houses. They also undertook work to convert older cinemas into multi-screen venues.
‘Hampshire Firm Boomed as Big Cinema Builders’, by A. G. K. Leonard, in Hampshire, Vol. 34, No. 8, p33-34 (H/y)
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