27A High Street,
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Totnes Cinema (Official)
Previous Names: Central Cinema, Romany Cinema
Located in Totnes, Devon. The Central Cinema opened in 1946 in a former Temperance Hall hall behind what became the Harberton Art Workshop. It was initially short lived, closing in 1947 and moving to the Seymour Hotel. However, films came back to the hall in 1951 and it was renamed the Romany Cinema and managed by the Romany Film Unit run by Kelvin D. and R. Grenville White. It closed without ceremony on 3rd September, 1964, the proprietors hoping to relocate elsewhere.
The premises became Totnes Library, which closed in 2013. Jane Hughes, who works as a clinical psychologist, and her film industry husband William put together a business plan and, in what Jane describes as a “leap of faith”, the bought the building. They were able to acquire two 35mm projectors, some seats and even a coffee machine following the demolition of a Film 4 building in London, then embarked on a major fund-raising campaign, leading to the cinemas' reopening in June 2014. Closed during the Winter of 2016 for soundproofing and the construction of a balcony, it re-opened on 19th May 2017 with “La grande Bellezza” (“The Great Beauty”). It had a 161 seating capacity.
The stalls seating area is set out cabaret style (there are Sunday lunchtime jazz sessions) although there is a row of comfortable sofas along the front row. Below the large screen a bar stretches right across the auditorium (with items on the bar removed before the film starts!). The modest balcony has two rows of 13 seats.
When I visited on 19th June 2019, I was pleased to meet the programme manager Colin Orr, who has worked at such cinemas as the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, London and the Duke of Yorks Cinema, Brighton. Closer to home he was at the Barn, Dartington for 25 years. Programming is very imaginative (I enjoyed an 11am screening of “The Blue Angel” starring Marlene Dietrich, together with a very respectable number of patrons), and, in keeping with the retro feel, vintage advertisements and trailers were projected onto the screen before the show.
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