The rebirth of Cinema within Marlborough - old Chapel in the Parade to become the town's new screen
A Cinema again in Marlborough could well become reality. Plans are due to be submitted to convert the old Chapel (formerly the Antiques Centre) in The Parade and yesterday, Saturday 11 November, the old Chapel was thrown open as part of a consultation exercise where Marlborough residents could get a view of the plans, ask questions of the developers and architects and make comments.
Behind the venture are Orlando Harris, formerly proprietor of the Blanchard Collection in Froxfield and Bob Benton, film producer of Stitchcombe. Local businessmen, and both keenly aware of the gap that a purpose-built cinema in Marlborough could fill.
"It wouldn't be just a cinema" explained Bob Benton. "There will be a cafe, space for art exhibitions with the aim being to make a venue that people will visit not just to see a film" "We would look to create a Film Festival, possibly a celebration of British Cinema, and link with Marlborough's arts events such as the Lit Fest and the proposed 'Marlborough Rising'. The flexibility of the venue will enable talks as well as films" he added.
Architect Tom Benton of practice Sanchez Benton, already has award-winning experience in the refurbishment and development of classic buildings such as the Chapel, working on the refurbishment of the crypt of Christ Church Spitalfields and the Garden Museum in central London.
"A Cosy, Community Cinema" explained Tom. "Comfy seats and excellent acoustic are critical" he added, noting that whilst internal acoustics must provide the best passible experience for the customer, the external 'deadening' was vital as the old Chapel is in a residential area so none of the sound or vibration can be allowed to seep out to affect the neighbours.
How many will it hold? "100 seats" added Tom.
Apart from the films screened at the Town Hall by Onscreen Events, Marlborough's former cinema filled some of the space currently occupied by Waitrose. It was consistent with the period vernacular for old and small town cinemas of that era - a genuine flea pit. But reels of great films were screened there and it was missed by many when the doors shut for the last time several decades ago.
This new vision promises a reawakening of a Marlborough screen, but in a very different and welcoming style.
Next stage will be for the plans to be submitted for approval, and part of this consultation has been to raise awareness and build support for the venture.
This new project promises a reawakening of a Marlborough screen, but in a very different and welcoming style.