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Historic hall enters digital age but fundraising must continue
IT is the historic Hampshire cinema saved from the brink of closure by loyal film lovers.
Now leaders and patrons of the picture palace at Lymington Community Centre have raised the curtain for a new era at the climax of a major fundraising campaign.
The Grade II listed Malt Hall – which is the sole cinema in the New Forest town – was on the verge of shutting its doors last year .
It was struggling to raise the cash needed to upgrade its aging equipment and ensure it could play new releases only available in digital format.
But the Save Our Cinema campaign and a £25,000 grant from the town council raised the £45,000 needed for a new digital projector.
Thrilled supporters gathered to watch action comedy Red 2 starring Bruce Willis which was the first film screened on the new equipment.
Community centre manager Penny Bicknell said: “It’s absolutely fabulous – the screen quality and sound is incredible and we can now compete with other cinemas in Southampton and Bournemouth.
“People’s generosity has been amazing and it shows the strength and depth of feeling in the town to save this facility.”
The Malt Hall dates back to the 1780s and served as a stable, First World War troop station and an ice rink before being converted into a community centre in 1948 and opening the cinema in the 1950s.
The 110-seat complex showed 40 films last year and sold over 6,000 seats.
Penny, who remembers watching 1979 film Kramer vs Kramer as a child there, added: “We are bringing it in line with this generation but are making sure we celebrate the older aspects so that we can save it for generations to come.”
The theatre – which is run by volunteers – needs to raise a further £10,000 towards the cost of refurbishing the auditorium and installing movable seats so they can host cabarets and other alternative shows.
People are being invited to sponsor a seat which will have their name written on it.
Historian Geraldine Beach is also hosting a talk outlining the building’s history from 2.30pm tomorrow.
Tickets cost £5 and all funds go to the campaign.
Contact 01590 672337 or see lymingtoncommunitycentre.
org.uk to book or to make a donation.
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