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Architects: W.H. Garwood
Built by the local Council as a live theatre in 1947, they used their Ramgate Corporation architect W.H. Garwood to design the theatre. It was constructed on land that had previously been a sunken garden on the East Cliff overlooking the sea. It is a typical seaside seasonal theatre of its period in time.
Originally the seating capacity was for 905, the main bulk of seats being in the stalls main floor which was surrounded on three sides by a narrow balcony containing three rows of seats. There are 8-dressing rooms.
In the early-1950’s a Compton Melotone organ was installed. This was removed in the late- 1970’s. Films were first screened from May 1986 on Sundays only and initially used 16mm projection equipment. 35mm equipment was later installed and it became a full time cinema from early-1991.
In 1998 it was split into two auditoriums and still retains live theatre use in the forward one, which also doubles as a cinema when no live productions are being staged. The other auditorium at the rear is equipped for cinema use only.
Last operated by Windsor Cinemas, as with all other entertainment venues, the Granville Theatre closed in March 2020 due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, as the national restrictions introduced to combat the pandemic began to be lifted, the team that had been running the Granville Theatre on behalf of Thanet Council (who owned the Freehold) were unable to re-open it.
As a result, the council took formal possession of the Granville Theatre in May 2021. In October 2021 the council sought expressions of interest from community groups to become the new owners.
A submission from Kent Film Foundation, the not-for-profit subsidiary of a Thanet based film production company, was rejected as not meeting “the relevant criteria”. The group had wanted to create a new centre with workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace and the town’s first organic restaurant - with a new name, The Sandcastle. However, the council was concerned that the submission did not provide adequate information about costings, and lacked proof of funding and a realistic business plan. (A survey in 2017 had identified that some £152,000 would be required for internal works - and a further £250,000 for roof repairs)
In May 2022 the council put the Granville Theatre up for sale on the open market. On 24th October 2022 the theatre was sold for £125,000 to Westwood One Ltd., the operators of Under 1 Roof children’s entertainment centres in Ramsgate and Canterbury. The company is headed up by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Matt Milchard, owner of Pyramid Martial Arts and Just Kids' Parties, both based in London.
The two sisters also run performing arts companies Regency Performance Arts and Regency Productions, which they took over from their mother, Sophia, who died of cancer in 2015. Matt Milchard also has 20 years' experience running touring pantomimes and other theatre events.
They are intending to undertake a full regeneration of the theatre space, and return the Granville Theatre back to a single auditorium, with a 600+ seating capacity. They also want to create a sea view café and bar, an exhibition area and workshop and education spaces. This work is intended to create, according to a council spokesman, “a high quality production, dance and cinema space”.
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