Byron Cinema - Progress

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Hope you Enjoyed the show

A touch of irony - but hopefully soon a reality again! - Image courtesy of Stuart Henson-Pockling ton and 'I Love Hucknall'

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Article 4 Direction

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 22nd March, 2019

Architect urges Byron protection

Newspaper article entitled Architect urge Byron protection

My heart dropped to my feet when I read this article this morning, it didn't help that my copy of the Daily Mail hadn't been delivered which at least might have alleviated the anguish by reporting on the never-ending childish behaviour of Brexit and the confounded Article 50. Honestly I can almost hear Private Frazer screaming 'We're awash with articles! We're doomed' and 'Articles to the right of them, articles to the left of them' from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, on discovering that Hucknall can use its own article.

First of all, with grateful thanks to for explaining what the Article 4 referred to in the newspaper article (pun or no pun?) means :

"Certain works that would normally require planning permission are permitted by the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) (1). This is primarily because the works are of a scale or type that is generally not likely to have an unacceptable impact. The rules are the same across England and so inevitably cannot take account of local sensitivities. The GPDO 2015 is the principal order. The Order sets out classes of development for which a grant of planning permission is automatically given.

An article 4 direction is made by the local planning authority. It restricts the scope of permitted development rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere in the authority’s area. Where an article 4 direction is in effect, a planning application may be required for development that would otherwise have been permitted development. Article 4 directions are used to control works that could threaten the character of an area of acknowledged importance, such as a conservation area.  

Article 4 directions can increase the public protection of designated and non-designated heritage assets and their settings. They are not necessary for works to listed buildings and scheduled monuments as listed building consent and scheduled monument consent would cover all potentially harmful works that would otherwise be permitted development under the planning regime. However, article 4 directions might assist in the protection of all other heritage assets (particularly conservation areas) and help the protection of the setting of all heritage assets, including listed buildings."

So in essence, and if you read the entire page, Historic England does a sterling job in explaining, succinctly, that the article is there to prevent any unlawful or malicious development or destruction of historically important buildings which may not have a listed or preservation order attached to them. Does the gutting of the Byron then constitute an over-zealous internal renovation by the owners? In last week's article it implies that they are not, but the BCP say otherwise.

This week's article is appallingly written and I would challenge what the reporter means by the final paragraph, but suspect he would not be interested enough in responding, so I shall continue to follow the news in the Hucknall Dispatch.

The Sordid Reality - Stage 2

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 15th March, 2019

Heritage Status too late for Byron

Pleas to protect Byron Cinema

The Reality

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 8th March, 2019

So we wait and see the next stage of this refurbishment/gutting of the cinema ......

The Promise

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 22nd February, 2019

Pledge to restore the Byron in the Dispatch dated 22nd February 2019

I have to say that I have never noticed the floor tiles which is a surprise, but the windows (visible externally and on the interior stairwell), wrought ironwork hidden behind the exterior curved signage (not visible from the street) and original doorways (destroyed but visible on retro images) have all the hallmarks of professional and intricate design work which made the Byron such a landmark image!

Latest 'Treasure' finds

Exit sign

Illuminated Exit Signage

Sourced from The Byron Community Project and in their own words "Lastest find! Orignal 1930's exit. This was found on the upper tier/ceiling of the lower floor leading to the fire exit at the rear of the bingo hall. We thought all of these had been destroyed and are difficult to replace.
The 'Exit' is engraved into the glass." - 16th March 2019

Selection of 'some beautiful features'

Interior grill behind theBingo signage on curved front

Panoramic Interior grill behind theBingo signage on curved front

These two views show the beautiful grill work from the inside of the office area - they are not visible from outside and similarly do not allow natural light to filter through. It certainly looks as if one of the grills has been destroyed. The centre panel looks as if it has been preserved and its full artwork is shown above.

Detail of Interior window

Solitary window design on the interior stairwell

Three windows forming a bay effect on the interior stairwell

Here are three examples of the 'beautiful old steel windows' that the owner wishes to preserve which are the mainstay design of the stairwell leading up to the 'upper' cinema after its Bingo/Cinema 'makeover.' The artwork, despite its current grubby condition is still in its original format. Note the use of different textured glass and streamline moderne design.

External Close up of window

Close up of the Exterior view of the stairwell windows

Exterior view of the stairwell windows

To give you an idea of what the external view of the window design is like here are three images of the triptych seen on the stairwell - were the two panels either side of the centre one left blank deliberately or were they the result of vandalism? The top image shows a close up of the intricate artwork. (Oh to find the original designs!) - Images sourced from The Byron Project, 'rich box frenzy' on Flickr, office interiors by David Heathcote and my own collection.

Luxury Cinema Plan for Byron!

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 22nd February, 2019

Front Page Hucknall Dispatch 22nd Fenruary 2019

So here's the promise on 22nd February, 2019 - Company out lines plans to restore picture house to former glory, Council says plans will help restore Hucknall's night-time economy, Pledge to look after heritage - a tall order justified below:

Byron to be flagship Cinema Dispatch articleByron to be flagship Cinema Dispatch article cont

Hucknall Dispatch article concerning Byron Cinema refurbishmentHucknall Dispatch article concerning Byron Cinema refurbishment cont

Articles sourced from the Hucknall Dispatch which has nothing on its Fb page or website!

New Cinema Plan for iconic Building

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 18th January, 2019

Hucknall Byron 2019 headingHucknall Byron 2019 narrative

Why are we waiting?

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 20th July 2018

Byron bid frustrated by council wait

Fast forward to March 2019 and you'll see why - I hadn't spotted this article so apologies for the rather dilapidated stated it is in, it has had to wait 8 months to see the light of day on this website. At the top of the page is the latest (2019), and saddest of news as all the campaigning from a couple of years ago has come to a devastating halt.

We're getting closer, we hope!

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 13th July 2018

Byron Cinema to become ACV

There's been a big gap between updates but it is hoped that the Byron can now become an Asset of Community Value - in reality it would serve the Byron better to secure a Grade II listing to ensure its lasting future! For more on the current situation visit The Byron Project

Near Miss!

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 4th March 2016

Police Car in front of Byron

On March 1st 2016 this police vehicle hit a bollard and luckily missed the Byron!

Police Car in near miss

Cinema Project for Town

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 19th February 2016

The MP for Sherwood visited Hucknall’s Byron Cinema project to show a camera crew from the BBC around the venue in an attempt to boost their bid for funding for a new cinema screen.

The visit was organised by Hucknall Coun Ben Bradley, following a request for support from local Councillors at a recent Ashfield Committee meeting.

The team, lead by their Chairman Ria Cash, are currently trying to raise £3,000 for a the screen that will allow them to show films in the main theatre, now that the seating has been installed and refurbished.

Cinema Quiz at the Byron

Byron Quiz Night

Pre-Christmas fun in November - Just as well the subject matter is relevant!

Four hundred seats being installed in Hucknall's Byron Cinema

I was becoming a little worried about the lack of new when I found this on the Evening Post website (posted on 10th February 2015) via an e-mail I received from the CTA to whom I subscribe and who gave us the fantastic exterior photo of the cinema in the 1930s used in an advert.

By JemmaPage  |  Posted: February 10, 2015

"Four hundred seats are being installed in the Byron Cinema in a bid to return it to its former glory. And so far more than 114 red velvet seats have been fitted by a group of volunteers from the Byron Community Project.

The group has been renovating the 1936 Art Deco building, on the corner of High Street, since 2013.

Meg Zanker, the organiser of the project, said: “We were impressed with how everyone got stuck in to cleaning, prepping and fixing the seats. “Our chief seat tester has personally sat on all the newly fitted seats to check comfort factor and audio levels.” The group of dedicated local people is looking to re-open the building as a multi-use hub for films, exhibitions, performances, conferences and Xbox and gaming competitions.

Allan Dawson, of Hucknall, is helping to refurbish the former cinema as part of back-to-work programme Ingeus. He remembers going to see the Jungle Book at the cinema when he was a young boy. The 52-year-old said: “It was constantly rammed. I bet it’d get around 1,000 visitors daily over the three showings.

“It’d be nice to get it going again. When I first walked in a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t believe it – it was exactly how it used to look. I never thought I’d see the place again.”

The seats were bought off eBay from the Plaza, in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Ria Cash, the project’s chairman, said: “I saw some cinema seats on my watch list. There were 1,295 of them, and it just happened that 400 of the seats were red, just like the Byron used to have – it was like fate.”

The building is one of three cinemas left in the country – the others are the Majestic Theatre, in Retford, and the Savoy Cinema, Spalding – designed by Nottingham architect Alfred J. Thraves, who created 19 cinemas in total.

Throughout the Second World War the cinema, which has not shown any films since 2006, remained a morale boosting community focus, outlasting rival picture palaces such as the nearby Scala, which closed its doors in 1962. It boasted a seating capacity of 1,189 before it was split in 1967 and the downstairs part used as a bingo hall.

To find out more about volunteering visit :

Byron Cinema's history:


In November 1936 the storm clouds of war were gathering – and Hucknall’s Byron Cinema opened its doors.

The venue is named after Lord Byron who is buried in St Mary Magdalene's Church at the other end of the town’s High Street.

The Byron Super Cinema, as it was then named, rapidly replaced United Entertainment's other cinema in the town, The Empire on Vine Terrace, which later re-opened for a while as a dance hall.

The Byron also outlived rival cinema Scala which closed its doors on June 23rd, 1962.

The Art Deco cinema was designed by local architect Alfred J. Thraves. It boasted a sweeping curved brick facade and metal fin tower on the right hand side.

Stall seats cost sixpence or ninepence, while balcony tickets would have set you back a shilling.

In October 1967 the Byron closed as a single screen cinema and the building was split into two sections.

The stalls area downstairs was converted into a bingo club and the upstairs balcony became a 404 seat cinema, which re-opened on December 31, 1967.

In 2003 it was re-christened The Spinelle and was known as The Cannon when it closed the doors on its final feature presentation, John Moore's remake of The Omen, in June 2006."


New Year Meeting for the Cinema Group

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 9th January 2015

Notification of Meeting January 2015

Art exhibition set for Byron Cinema

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 5th December 2014

Newspaper article relating to Exhibition at the Byron Cinema

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 28th November 2014

The Byron Cinema in Hucknall is playing host to a new exhibition starring the talents of contemporary artists and film-makers. The exhibition entitled Breaking the Fourth Wall will feature painting, installation, sculpture and film and has been put together by the Fresh Meat Collective.

Art Exhibition Poster Byron Cinema Art Exhibition Newspaper Article

The nine-strong collective was founded in February this year and is composed of Loughborough University graduates, artists in residence, commercial artists, workshop leaders and teachers. Artist Andy Allen (24), of Hucknall, is curating the exhibition: “The space showcases a variety of artists from diverse backgrounds and at different points in their careers. The Byron cinema was my cinema when I was a lad. I met some of the Byron team at the Christmas market last year and it evolved from there. The building is extremely interesting. From a curatorial point of view this is something completely different.

“The work exhibited will interact with the unusual interior of the cinema, breaking away from a traditional gallery setting and allowing the artists’ to really engage with this unconventional space. In the future we hope to be working in Cornwall and Mansfield where some of the other artists are based.” The exhibition will be open all day to the public on on Saturday 29th November, from 10am to 10pm, with a party from 6pm, a film screening at 8pm and live music from rock group The Field Studies.

Hucknall cinema group supporting Italian campaign

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated, Friday, 21st November 2014

While the Byron Community Project team are working to restore the Byron Cinema in Hucknall, members are keenly watching the work of a group of people in a Tuscan town who are engaged in a similar task. And now the Byron Cinema’s supporters are asking local people to support the Teatro Impero in Montevarchi.

Built in the early 1900s, it was in 1937 given a new frontage in the striking style of the period by a local architect and engineer called Raffaello Maestrelli. In 1971, the theatre was renovated with over 1,000 new seats and at around the same time, the original tiled roof was replaced with asbestos -cement corrugated sheets. Following a fire in 1983, when 64 people died of fumes from burning seats in a Turin cinema, Italian safety laws were tightened up and the Impero declared unsafe. It was forced to close as the owners were unable or unwilling to finance work to bring it up to the new standard.

Teatro Impero in Montevarchi Teatro Impero link

1930s study complete with street urchin - visit here to 'Save the Impero@

The Impero has stayed closed for over 25 years, leaving Montevarchi, a town some 32 miles from the city of Siena, without a large hall. In 2010, the council included the purchase of the building in its town centre renovation programme, but so far they have not been able to agree terms with the owners. Part of the roof has now collapsed.

Teatro Impero in Montevarchi today

Comparative study today - 'Save the Impero'

At the start of 2014, Montevarchi residents set up Friends of the Impero to draw attention to the urgent need to rescue the theatre. One of the initiatives promoted by the group is the Luogo del Cuore project (Places You Love), which is sponsored by the environmental group FAI. The Byron Project’s David Heathcote was at university with Friends of the Impero founding member, Bob Monroe. He said: “We discovered our common interest on Facebook,” said David. “There are some amazing coincidences, such as The Byron being built in 1937, which was the same year the Impero was renovated. “Both projects are looking to public funding to help re-open their fine buildings and benefit their respective communities.” Friends of the Impero members voted for the Byron Community Project in the recent Lloyds Community campaign and helped win us £3,000. “Now it’s our turn to help them and vote for their project.”

Magnificent foyer of the Teatro Impero in Montevarchi

The magnificent foyer of the Teatro Impero in Montevarchi as it would have appeared in the 1930s (the time of the 'Facist Architecture)

Procenium arch interiorBalcony interior

Interior of the Teatro Impero in Montevarchi showing the proscenium arch on the left image and the balcony on the right image.

Bank set to deposit £3,000 for project

Some better news as reported in the Hucknall Dispatch dated 7th November 2014

Article on Byron Cinema Llloyds application

"They banked on winning some cash and now the Byron Community Project is celebrating a financial windfall. The Lloyd’s Bank Community campaign has awarded the Byron Community Project the maximum sum of £3,000. Voting took place over a six-week period, and four groups - including Langley Mill Community Group, Waingroves Methodist Church and Valley CIDS (Lighthouse Charity Shop) - competed against one another locally for awards ranging from £500 to £3,000.

“We’re very pleased with the result,” said Ria Cash, project team chairman. “This money enables us to commission a full structural survey of the 1930s Art Deco Byron Cinema, from the basement to the roof, plus we can pay our architect to come up with yet more detailed pictures and plans of how we are going to transform the building.

“We’d like to thank every who voted for us, over the internet, by Twitter or Facebook, or by walking into Lloyd’s Bank on the High Street and requesting a voting token. You’ve made this possible.

My pledge

(Above - my personal pledge of support)

“We contacted people all over the UK and the wider world, including a group in the Tuscan village of Moncioni who have a similar plan to restore their own 1930s cinema building.” And Ria added: “We asked everyone to support us and the votes flooded in - Chinese, Canadian, Australian, Italian, Russian, and Polish among them. “I’d also like to thank the core team and volunteers. Some mornings we even had people at the bottom of Hucknall by-pass, holding up placard.”

Lottery setback as funding bid on hold

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 3rd October 2014

Grant refused article

Campaigners wanting to reopen the Byron Cinema have hit a setback.

The group has announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has put the group’s £1.9m application on hold. One of the conditions of acceptance was that the group could match-fund 10 per cent, but as yet it does not have £190,000. Ria Cash, Byron Community Project team chairman, told a public meeting held in the Byron Cinema on Saturday: “We’ve had a setback but we’re by no means defeated.

“The Heritage Lottery Fund have put our £1.9m grant application on hold for the time being, because we have yet to meet one of their conditions for acceptance. “To have our application considered, we have to provide proof of 10 per cent match funding from other sources; that’s £190,000. “Our application hasn’t been turned down, and the Lottery Fund people in Nottingham have offered us support and guidance to improve our chances of acceptance.”

Project team member David Heathcote said the group would look at additional funding avenues in the short term. He said: “With this in mind, we are taking up Nottinghamshire County Council’s invitation to apply for up to £50,000 Supporting Local Communities grant.”

The closing date for the application is in December.

County councillor Alice Grice said: “I’m happy to support them in any way I can. The SLC fund, to which the group is hoping to submit a bid, is allocated according to a point scoring system based on the positive impact the project will have on the community. “We are aware of a number of potential bids from Hucknall and there will be many groups across the county applying for a share of this £500,000 fund. Myself and my fellow councillors are keen to engage with the team at the Byron Project to explore all avenues of funding.”

Public Meeting announced for Saturday, September 27th 2014

Update for Byron Public Meeting

The Hucknall Dispatch dated, Friday 5th September, 2014 carried the story requesting all fans of the cinema to vote for the Byron to receive funding to assist with its future. Happily this proved an easy enough request to follow through and gave Lloyds Bank some impressive kudos!

Lloyds Bank Appeal



It's an easy enough process once you get to the website as can be seen on the image above. After voting (you have to provide an e-mail address) you get a confirmation which you, in turn must confirm. Once that has happened your vote is added and the screen below confirms a successful transaction.




You then have a choice whether or not to further promote your good deed on Facebook :

They're here!

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 22nd August 2014

Seat joy for Hucknall’s Byron Community Project

Stockport Seats arrive

Prior to the comprehensive article from 22nd August, on the 15th August 2014 the Dispatch announced the arrival of the Stockport seating at the Byron Cinema.

Seats have arrived Dispatch article

They have had setbacks, delays and disappointment but the Byron Community Project volunteers are this week celebrating the acquisition of seats which will help make their dream of bringing the Byron Cinema back to life a reality.

The group had originally earmarked old aircraft seats for the scheme but it was then discovered these wouldn’t be suitable for the space.

Aeroplane Seats

They are rather ghastly aren't they?

They were then promised seats from Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall but were left empty-handed after discovering they were to be kept by the contractors. But finally after much negotiations and navigating the collection of 400 seats from the Plaza Cinema in Stockport, the group have secured the much-needed seating.

“It’s taken us a year, and we’ve had many set-backs and disappointments, but we now have 400 seats in the auditorium,” said chairman of the Byron Community Project, Ria Cash.

“Last Sunday we travelled to Stockport and bought a set of vintage seats,” added Ria.

Stockport Plaza seating Stockport Plaza seating dismantled

The seating being dismantled in Stockport in preparation for onward transmission to Hucknall - images courtesy of videos created by David Heathcote on Vimeo and the Byron Community Project website.

“It was a really good community effort. A team of volunteers travelled to Stockport, and there were reinforcements waiting on our return to Hucknall.”

Seating arrives in Hucknall

The long awaited seating arrives by lorry at the Hucknall Byron Cinema - image courtesy of videos created by David Heathcote on Vimeo and the Byron Community Project website

Seating disembarked and stacked

Disembarkation Point - image courtesy of videos created by David Heathcote on Vimeo and the Byron Community Project website

Seating stored at the Byron

Safely stashed! - image courtesy of videos created by David Heathcote on Vimeo and the Byron Community Project website

The Byron Community Project has attracted volunteers from across all age groups. “Some of our core team are pensioners,” explained Ria, “and a couple of helpers on Sunday were school children. They have to be accompanied by parents for legal reasons, but it’s great to get the younger generation involved.” Thirteen-year old, Charley Hawthorne-Bales, from Mulberry Grove, was one of the volunteers. “I think it’s important for young people to help with the Byron Project,” said Charley. “They’ve never got to see what the Byron used to be like. It will be nice to have a cinema in Hucknall, rather than have to go into Nottingham.” Core team member, Janice Burbridge summed the day up: “It was good. Hard work, but really worth it.”

There's a feel of "The continuing story of the Cinema Seats"

(with apologies to the long-running television saga of Peyton Place which started with the words "This is the continuing story of Peyton Place")

Seat have arrived Dispatch article

Here's hoping this is the end of the seating saga and we soon see them in situ! From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 15th August 2014


Sorry - but now even I am beginning to lose patience with this to-ing and fro-ing with the proposed seating which started with some defunct aeroplane seats which were available on ebay with a long-suffering owner who, on hearing about the cause, agreed to safeguard the seating and defer payment until the amount had been raised. Nothing further was heard about that transaction ..... then there was a lot of discussion about some new commercial seating and choices were offered to those who had already pledged money. That all died a death and then the Dispatch and the Byron Project tell us the Royal Concert Hall have seats they want to sell ..... now 'big strong types' are needed to shift the seating from the Plaza in Stockport ... watch this space, there is bound to be more to come ....... In the meantime the Dispatch from the 8th August 2014 does its best to keep us all up to date:

Time to take a seat for cinema article

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 8th August 2014 (no direct link to the internet page)

Social Media responses to Byron updates

Also from the Hucknall Dispatch dated 8th August 2014 - social media exchanges

The Nottingham Post also takes up the story on 6th August 2014

Nottingham Post picks up the article

MEMBERS of the Byron Community Project are calling for volunteers to help them collect 400 seats for the refurbishment of the historic Hucknall cinema. The Byron Cinema, opened in 1936, is now a bingo hall and has not shown a film since 2006. For the past year, Hucknall people have been trying to restore it, starting with getting new seats. After a frustrating few months, and two unsuccessful deals, they have now secured 400 seats from the Plaza in Stockport, Greater Manchester, which they will collect on Sunday. Project chairman Ria Cash said: "At first we were buying aircraft seats and then were advised not to go down this route as they weren't in keeping with the heritage of the building and therefore could affect grant funding. "Then in January, we put in a bid to buy seats from the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. We were told last week that, under the terms of the removal contract, the seats belong to the contractors. They declined to sell them to us. "About a week ago I went on eBay and saw some cinema seats on my watchlist. There were 1,295 of them, and it just happened that 400 of the seats were red, just like the Byron used to have – it was like fate." Ria now wants volunteers to travel to Stockport with the team, help to unfix the seats, load them on to transport and then unload them back in Hucknall. She added: "You don't have to do all day – if you can just give us an hour of your time it would be a great help."

As the project is now buying more seats than initially intended, sponsorships are also needed for the additional 100 seats. It costs £25 to sponsor a seat, which you can name. Project co-ordinator Gregory Wass said: "This is a real massive step for the project and a massive step forward to putting events back on at the Byron. "The seats are just what we wanted." The project applied for more than £1.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund in May. It will hear whether it has been successful next month. If the money is approved, the Byron will be turned into a multi-use venue for film showings, exhibitions, performances, conferences and Xbox and gaming competitions. To help out on Sunday contact, or to sponsor a seat e-mail

Dramatic twist in cinema seats bid

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 1st August we are informed of a 'Dramatic twist in cinema seats bid' - the article is reproduced below. The website, in the meantime, prior to publication had heralded the storyline in its news page, with the mouthwatering paragraph which read "We’ve got news about a shadow minister who has been in town, and the latest twist in the bid to find seating for the Byron Cinema."

Seats Saga Picture of Cinema Seats Saga narrative

In my e-mail Inbox on Saturday, 2nd August the following information was waiting for me :
We have some fantastic news – today we have been up to Greater Manchester to view some cinema seats.   They are great – ideal for the Byron !   
We only have one day – Sunday, August 10 – to go there, remove the seats and get them down to Hucknall.  
This news will be announced at our Public Meeting this afternoon, Sat Aug 2, starting at 2pm in the Byron but we wanted you, as a seat sponsor, to be the first to hear the news.
Thank you so much for your patience and continued support.
The Byron Community Project Team
facebook: the byron community project"

Plenty to celebrate for Byron Community Project

The Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 25th July, 2014 invites 'Guest Columnist' Ria Cash to give an overview and update of what has been happening over the preceding 12 months as the Project approaches a year since the first tentative, but very well attended meeting called to discuss the future of the Byron Cinema.

"It’s hard to believe, but the Byron Community Project, Hucknall’s campaign to re-open the Byron as a cinema, is nearly a year old! Team has been working very hard over the past few months, but we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a large grant, and we’ve received smaller grants from Ashfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council. Barclays Bank are match-funding every £1 we raise with one of theirs. But the question we get asked most often is “What’s happening about the seats?” We are still hoping to get seats from the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham when they refurbish this summer. It’s been a long, drawn-out affair, despite constant efforts to get a response since we put our bid in months ago. Thanks to the intervention of Mark Spencer MP, we found out just recently that our tender for seats is currently with the RCH’s Legal Department. To everyone who sponsored one or more seats, please be assured your contribution is safe in the bank. The money is ring-fenced for when we get the go-ahead from the Royal Concert Hall.   We want to thank you for your patience - we know it’s been quite a while and, believe us, we’re just as frustrated as some of you will be! As soon as we have confirmation, we will be contacting each of you personally to share the good news. Once (we’re not saying “if” – we’re still very positive!) we get the call from the Royal Concert Hall, then it will be “all hands on deck” to get the seats delivered to the Byron.   We were told originally we’d have only a few days to remove the seats; get them onto an artic lorry; up to Hucknall, unloaded and carried upstairs to the auditorium for storage. We’ll be putting out an appeal for volunteers to help us as soon as we get the go-ahead.

If you might be able to help with seat transportation, please email us at

Thanks again for your continued support. You can keep in touch through our website and on Facebook.   Our next Public Meeting is on Saturday, 6 September when we’ll give you an update and you can meet the Project Team."

As one of those original participants I have to admit to being vastly amused to read about the 'third' tier of seating being considered. When the original enthusiasts came together, we were told that there was an incredible 'deal' on ebay for some ex-aeroplane seating that would be considered for the cinema and these seats were sold to us on a sponsorship basis and the understanding that we would be identified by name (if we so wished) and would have first 'dibs' on reduced entry to sit on our very own purchases. From an earlier Dispatch article : "One of the first things the group is doing is looking at ways to replace the seating, as all of the original seats were sold on ebay. But Ria Cash has sourced 240 1st class leather reclining seats from Airbus and as a way of paying for them, the group are offering local businesses and individuals the chance to sponsor a seat for £25 each."

Before the original Facebook page was taken down to be replaced by The Byron Community Project page - sponsors were asked to choose the style of seating they would prefer - the choice was mainly in the style and colour of the fabric - elegant black or echoing the original plush seating, red.

Dispatch annual catch up

Project capturing cinema memories

The Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 18th July once again dedicates generous space to the Byron Project as plans for an oral history are revealed.

Campaigners look to develop oral history of Hucknall’s Byron Cinema

by Denis Robinson

Campaigners aiming to bring Hucknall’s Byron Cinema back to life have announced plans to develop an oral history of the iconic building. The Byron Community Project has applied for a small grant to develop the scheme to bring the sounds of the 78 year-old picture house. Team member David Heathcote said: “We are now keener than ever to hear from anyone who can recall ways in which the Byron played a part in their lives.

“These memories must be recaptured and recorded, otherwise they will be lost forever.

“One lady remembers falling in love with a commissionaire at the cinema. It was apparently his military-style uniform that did it for her.

“On a more dramatic note, one patron had to be rushed from the Byron to hospital with appendicitis.”

The team are still waiting on a decision over their application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was submitted on 23rd May. Mr Heathcote gave a presentation about the project at last week’s meeting of Hucknall’s Reach Out residents’ group, held at Holgate Academy. He said: “Work on the Lottery application was a huge undertaking. It comprised 9,000 words, 48 pages and ten file attachments. “Nearly £2 million is needed to bring the cinema back into use and renovate this beautiful and now-rare art deco building, which is the gateway to the town centre. “Enthusiastic support has been shown by the local community. Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group are right behind us and we have backing from the town’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer.”

David said the venue had a strong theatrical potential and he could visualise it being used by local amateur drama groups and schools of dancing, as well as for live events from as far afield as London. He stressed that the bingo side of the building, which dates back to the 1960s, was equally vital from a heritage point of view. A fundraising craft fair will be held at the Byron on Sunday 27th July, with a variety of stalls to be set up.

Request for interview e-mail

In June 2014 David Heathcote suggested that he might like to interview me for this historical record (Private e-mail addresses removed).

The Byron Project needs Volunteers!

The Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 27th June, 2014 dedicates a page to the continuing restoration hopes of the Byron Community Project team.

Byron Volunteers wanted Ria Cash

Here is the team leading the fight to transform Hucknall’s historic Byron Cinema into a community facility the whole Dispatch district can enjoy.

Led by Ria Cash, pictured centre, the small team of dedicated volunteers are hopeful that plans to bring cinema back to the town will become a reality. Plans also include making the building a community facility for all, encompassing events and activities for all ages if their lottery bid is successful. But more help is needed. “Whatever your skill, talent, work or life experience, we will be able to find you a role within our team,” said Ria. “We can offer you an experience to work with enthusiastic and inspiring local people who would welcome your help.”



As the original article appeared in the Dispatch on 27th June 2014

The Hucknall Dispatch of Friday, 13th June, 2014 continues to show its support of the Byron Community Project by requesting 'memories' of the cinema from members of the public and past and present residents of Hucknall - David Heathcote is the Guest Columnist for this article and a stalwart supporter of the project.

Byron Community Project recalls memories of Byron Cinema

The Byron Community Project is not just about restoring a building and bringing cinema back to Hucknall. Since it opened in 1936, the Byron has been the source of many happy memories – first dates, birthday treats, and the chance to see giants of the silver screen. With this in mind, the Byron Community Project is keen to record oral histories.

“We sit down and just chat to see what you remember about visiting the cinema,” says David. “It’s amazing the Heritage stories that come to light!” Recently, the Project visited St John’s Day Centre. Now in her nineties, Edith Chamberlain remembered being a Byron usherette during the War. “When the air-raid siren on the cinema roof sounded,” she said, “we couldn’t go home. Some customers walked out, but we had to stay behind to look after the rest.” Edith stood no nonsense from noisy cinema goers and said: “We’d shine our torch light on them, and say ‘If you’re not quiet – outside!’” When the film had finished and the audience went home, the usherettes had to put all the seats back up, and check for lost property. Said Edith: “I found plenty of glasses and umbrellas, but no money – never any money.”

Resident, Fred Williams (76) remembered standing outside the cinema when an A-certificate film was showing. He said: “You’d stand there, ‘Please sir, would you take me in, please?’ 99 out of 100 they would, and when you got in, you went your own sweet way.” Fred and his mate tried creeping back from the cheap cinema seats to more expensive ones in the dark. The Commissionaire spotted them, and said “Keep walking!” “He walked us out of the cinema!” laughed Fred. “We didn’t try that again.” “When I was older and started courting, you were hoping your mum and dad went out, so you could have a night in, and – you know…” But the cinema was a good place to take your girlfriend. “Downstairs it were 9d or 1/-; upstairs it were 2/1d. Big jump, isn’t it?!” But upstairs there were double seats. “You could put your arm round! They were enjoyable dates.”

The Hucknall Dispatch of Friday, 28th March, 2014 continues to promote the Byron Community Project working on a fund-raiser with Byron Bingo to celebrate the 47th birthday of the venture (not to be confused with the age of the original building which dates back to 1936)

FREE game book for Dispatch readers to help celebrate Byron Bingo birthday bash!

It will be eyes down this Friday for a special event at Byron Bingo on Hucknall High Street. The party is taking place on Friday, March 28, to mark the Byron’s 47th birthday, with free food and bubbly laid on. There will be a free game at 6.20pm for a chance to win a 40-inch meerkat.

But there is a chance to win a cash jackpot if you visit the town centre venue to play bingo on a Thursday night over the next four weeks - and you can claim a FREE bonus book of ten games worth 99p by cutting out and taking along the voucher in this week’s Dispatch. Don’t miss the chance to join in the fun with a group of friends at what is fast becoming a Hucknall hot spot and thanks to Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget last week you won’t have to pay as much tax - after he halved bingo duty to 10 per cent. Sritharan Tharmalingam, known as Sri, has been the Byron Bingo owner since 2004.

He said: “We have campaigned for bingo to get a fairer tax and the figure has exceeded our hopes. It will make a big difference to us and I am delighted. We are one of a relatively few surviving independent bingo halls. We offer traditional bingo with no gimmicks.”

Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, will be the guest of honour and will be cutting the birthday cake. Sri said Byron Bingo had enjoyed its best year for some time and had benefited from the high-profile project to reopen the Byron Cinema, which is in the same building.

Ria Cash, who is spearheading the cinema initiative, said: “I am very pleased that the bingo has experienced an upsurge of support. “It goes hand in hand with the cinema and we want both to be successful.”

Byron Bingo has twice hit the headlines in the last 12 years.

In 2002, famous actress Kathy Burke took part in a scene shot there for the Shane Meadows film, ‘Once Upon A Time In The Midlands’. (details further down this page).

Then, in 2009, Hollywood actor and writer Rupert Everett visited the venue for a controversial Channel 4 TV programme, ‘The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron’.

He interviewed some of the bingo players and one of them told him off for asking rude questions about Byron’s sexual attributes!

The Hucknall Dispatch of Friday, 21st March, 2014 brings news of on-going projects and updates so far:

Byron Community Project gathering momentum and support in town

You may have heard of The Byron Community Project, but who are we and what do we do? We are a group of dedicated volunteers working to restore and reopen the Byron Cinema, having set up a not-for-profit company run for the community and by the community. Our goal is to reconnect the people of Hucknall with their artistic heritage by renovating the Byron Cinema building and creating a new entertainment center for the whole community to enjoy. What we aim to do is big, but we have dedication and enthusiasm to match.

We hope not only to bring cinema back to Hucknall, with both a digital and a traditional film projector, but also upgrade the existing facilities to include a stage for theatrical productions, live music performances, conferences and events hire. We also hope to have classroom facilities for music recording and editing and to use the screen for video game tournaments. The Bingo will also continue, because that is an important part of Hucknall’s heritage too. Our plans include full disabled access and amenities, so the entire community can enjoy the facilities at the Byron Cinema.

What are we doing now? The main priority is our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the deadline for this is May 23rd. In the meantime we are gathering quotes and consulting with professionals to ensure our plans can be made a reality. We would also like to know what you want to see at the Byron Cinema, so please help us by filling in our quick, 5-minute survey, which is crucial to our funding application. Please visit our website at and click on the survey button. Meanwhile we are holding events in the Byron Cinema itself, including craft fairs, which are proving to be a great success! Our next Craft Fair is on April 5th, and we are holding a Saturday Market on March 22nd.

Our next Public Meeting, where members of The Byron Community Project give a progress update and answer questions, is on March 29th at the Byron Cinema, everyone is welcome to attend, come and see the cinema!

We would like to thank everyone for their support so far, including Ashfield District Council, who has recently supported the project financially. All of us at the project will continue working our very hardest to ensure the Byron Cinema will once again be a source of pride for Hucknall.

Byron Community Project - Grant update

NEP Funding Article

Nottingham Evening Post covering the lottery grant application on Friday, 7th March 2014.

"A COMMUNITY project which aims to re-open Hucknall’s Byron Cinema is applying for more than £1.5 million in funding. The Byron Community Project will be putting in its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on May 23. If approved, the cinema will be turned into a multi-use venue for film showings, exhibitions, performances, conferences and Xbox and gaming competitions. Project co-ordinator Gregory Wass, 22, of Hucknall, said: “The money would mean a lot because it will allow us to do what we have planned and create a community building for the local area to use and beyond.”

The iconic Byron building, on the corner of the High Street, was opened in 1936, with a seating capacity of 1,189. It is currently being used as a bingo hall, and has not shown any film since 2006. As part of its application the group is required to create a survey which indicates that there is a good level of community support for the project. Mr Wass added: “It is only a quick five minute survey and I know people do not like surveys at the best of times but it could help us greatly. Every response is a step closer to the HLF funding.” Project chair Ria Cash, 38, of Hucknall, said the venue would be not-for-profit and any money made would go back in to the improving the town. Ms Cash said: “It would be amazing to get the HLF funding. If it is re-opened I think it will help put the heart beat back into the town.”

Jo Turner, 75, of Hucknall, remembers regularly visiting the cinema before it closed. Ms Turner said: “I think it would be wonderful it the cinema re-opened; it was always very popular and I would love to see it back. There isn’t a lot going on in Hucknall so it would be great to have a multi-purpose venue.” The group is also appealing for volunteers - and in particular an accountant - to come forward and help out with cinema’s restoration plans. Volunteers are also required to help out with the group’s pop-up cinema events and regular craft fairs. Mr Wass added: “Any skills are welcome. We are looking for people who are passionate about the project and about the community. No matter what age, experience or background we would love to hear from you.” Anyone who is willing to become a volunteer should contact To fill in the survey visit

The Byron Bingo Club is inviting people to join in with its 47th birthday anniversary on Friday, March 28. It will take place from 6pm to 9pm and will feature free bingo games, party food and a glass of bubbly."

Hucknall Dispatch Seat Sales

From the Hucknall Dispatch on Friday, 28th February, 2014

Byron Cinema host Valentines day film event

From the Hucknall Dispatch - Friday, 7th February 2014

The team aiming to re-open Hucknall’s Byron Cinema will be holding a special event on the eve of St Valentine’s Day.

A film club formed as part of the Byron Community Project will be showing the famous movie, ‘Dirty Dancing’, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, next Thursday. “We hope it helps people to get into the romantic spirit,” said project board chairman Ria Cash.

The film, chosen by a public vote on the project website, will be screened at Holgate Academy, Hucknall, starting at 6.45 pm. Admission prices are £4, £7 for a couple and £12 for a family, with all proceeds for the project funds. Barclays Bank have match-funded the cost of presenting the film and a member of its staff will be ‘ice-cream lady’ for the night.

Also in aid of the project, a craft fair is being held at the Byron Cinema itself on Friday (7th February) from 9am to 2.30pm and admission is free. Home-made items on offer include jewellery, jams and preserves, knitted goods and bath bombs. Ria has been elected to chair the project in place of Stuart Pocklington, who has achieved a work promotion that will mean him frequently travelling overseas. But he has accepted the position of honorary consultant to the project board, which is in recognition of his efforts to kick-start the initiative and assemble the team.

At a public meeting held by the team this week, Ria said an application to the National Lottery for funding was to have been made this month but had been deferred until May. The total cost of bringing the project to fruition would be £1 million or slightly more, she reported. Because steps in the auditorium would need to be extended, the number of proposed seats has been reduced from 404 to 363. Board member David Heathcote said: “We’re very keen to recruit more people who can help us to achieve our objective. Especially any people languishing at home, having recently retired or been made redundant. “They may have extremely valuable skills and experience, and they are just the people we need. If you know someone who is really watching too much daytime television, direct them our way. To coin a phrase: Our Town Needs You.”

The Byron Project now has a dedicated Facebook Page

Facebook Page Image Facebook Link

The page has been renamed 'The Byron Community Project' - but I like my version better!

Hucknall Dispatch 6th September 2013

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated Friday, 6th September 2013

From the Nottingham Evening Post web-site (28th August 2013)

On the edge of their seat as plan comes together

Stuart promoting the curtains

Plans to restore the Byron Cinema in Hucknall town centre are under way.

Last month, the I Love Hucknall group – set up to revitalise the town centre – held a meeting to gauge opinion about restoration plans for the old cinema.

After a positive response, the group decided the first step would be to replace all seating – the originals were sold on E-bay. Now the dream could be made a reality, as the group has managed to get 240 first-class reclining seats from Airbus.

Ria Cash, 37, of Bolsover Street, who secured the seats, said after telling the seller of the cause, he halved the price from £12,000 to £6,000.She said: "I have been to the Byron since I was a kid. It would be lovely to get it up and running again. So far the support in Hucknall has been phenomenal."

Ria and the projector

To cover the cost of the seats, the group is asking individuals and businesses to take part in a seat sponsorship scheme. So far 100 of the 240 Letter to Evening Postseats have been sponsored. Mrs Cash added: "It's something different and it is a nice gift. There is a lady who bought a seat in memory of her mum who used to go the cinema with her. We are grateful for any support and help. Every little bit somebody does is worth while."

The iconic building, on the corner of the High Street, is currently used as a bingo hall, and has not shown any film since 2006. I Love Hucknall group member Stuart Pocklington, 33, said: "It's really good the community is coming together and doing everything they can to see the cinema reopened." Seat sponsorship starts at £25 per seat, which includes having their name on the seat, three free tickets to a film of the sponsor's choice, and five per cent off tickets for a year. There are other rewards available to those who sponsor two or three seats.

Mum-of-two Cheryl Parker, 34, of Ruffs Drive, said she would definitely take her children to the cinema if it is reopened. She said: "I remember going when I was little. It was like a treat when we were younger and it would be nice to see it running again."

Mr Pocklington added: "If you are a business, please sponsor one quickly. If you are an individual get your name down and be part of Hucknall's history." To sponsor a seat visit

What do you think of the plan? Email

On 4th September 2013 the Nottingham Evening Post published my response (see left image) and added a supportive article :




From the Hucknall Dispatch published 23rd August 2013 - all copyright of narrative and pictures courtesy of the Hucknall Dispatch

The campaign takes centre stage and fills the front page of the Hucknall Dispatch

Take a seat for Byron

Dreams of bringing blockbusters back to the Byron could become a reality as support for the cinema gains momentum.

Campaigners inside the Cinema ruins

Campaigners from the Save the Byron Campaign appeal for seats.

Only last month the I Love Hucknall group held a meeting asking residents and businesses to back its campaign to transform the historic building into a venue the whole community could enjoy. Now, just several weeks later, and the group have enlisted the help of countless supporters who are ‘passionate’ about breathing new life into the town centre venue. And with a seating sponsorship scheme successfully started and a lottery fund meeting in the pipeline it’s all systems go.

“So far we have been busy getting quotes for the equipment needed to re-open,” said Stuart Pockington of I Love Hucknall. “It will cost hundreds of thousands to achieve, so it won’t be easy, but then the group are really passionate and up for the challenge.

“The people of Hucknall are also giving us lots of support and it seems to be really pulling the community together, and when we re-open we will be creating a new legacy for the town.”

Despite the cinema retaining its 1960s projector, which is still working, the group hope to upgrade to a digital projector as this will allow the most recent films and also enable live sports events such as next year’s World Cup, Wimbledon and Formula 1 to be shown.

Stuart added: “It would also allow us to have video game tournaments displayed on the big screen, which would be great for the younger generation and big kids like myself.

“Further to this we would like to explore the possibility of making it a live events venue with bands, theatre groups etc, if we go digital there is so much we can do.

“We do not want to try and compete with the big chain multi screen cinemas, instead we want to create a unique venue, which has lots to offer to all ages and interests .”

One of the first things the group is doing is looking at ways to replace the seating, as all of the original seats were sold on ebay. But Ria Cash has sourced 240 1st class leather reclining seats from Airbus and as a way of paying for them, the group are offering local businesses and individuals the chance to sponsor a seat for £25 each.

“The response has been amazing with lots of businesses wanting 1, 2, 3 or more, and lots of local people wanting to sponsor one too,” said Ria who climbed aboard the scheme for nostalgic reasons. “For every seat purchased we will be putting a company/individual name onto the seat, offer sponsors free tickets and the chance to use them on opening night.”

There are 240 seats in total with 140 left to sell.

A meeting has been set up with the Heritage Lottery Fund in September to discuss the initial stages of the application process.

“Ideally we would like to be able to buy the building outright from its current owner, so in effect the people of Hucknall will own the historic building which so many people have fond memories of,” added Stuart.

“We have lots of really skilled people working on the project so I hope that by this time next year we will have it re-opened in one form or another and that I will be taking my children to watch films there during the 2014 summer holidays.”

One of the skilled people already showing his expertise is Martin Bradbury who has made his whole restoration album available on Fb but here is a quick before and after look at the neglected but now restored original 'Our Next Programme' board:

Neglected Sign

As found once the clean up had started

Stripped down to basics

Stripped to the bare bones but already looking better

Backing applied to signage

New backing applied

Finished item

Hey presto - who would know the difference? Job well done Martin!

Re-opening Byron could be ‘viable’

From the Hucknall Dispatch dated 2nd August 2013 - Published on 02/08/2013 13:57

Inaugural Meeting of Byron Project

Stuart Pocklington presides over the inaugural meeting of what will become The Byron Project. In the background veteran Dispatch reporter, Denis Robinson can be seen conferring with local CAMRA expert Andrew Ludlow - image copyright of the Hucknall Dispatch.
Byron Cinema meeting held at the Broomhill Lane Childrens Centre in Hucknall on Wednesday night.

A move for the curtain to go up again at Hucknall’s historic Byron Cinema has gathered momentum.

A meeting about the highly ambitious idea of re-opening the cinema was held at Broomhill Road Children’s Centre this week. And the turnout was larger than expected forcing organisers to move to another room. A brief overview of the ‘bring back the cinema’ plea was given by Stuart Pocklington, a committee member of the I Love Hucknall town team. Born and bred in Hucknall, Stuart said: “I have great memories of the Byron and went there countless times as a youngster. It is a shame that this well-known local amenity has been left to rot.”

Rachel Whitmore, who works in the research office at Nottingham University, reported on a business plan she has produced to support the possibility of the cinema being re-opened. She said the Byron would face competition with major cinemas for new releases as they received these earlier than independent picture houses. But she pointed out that the Byron could also show archived, cult and local interest films as well as providing a showcase for amateur film makers.

Another suggestion is for the cinema to serve a multi-functional purpose as an arts centre and a venue for such events as conferences, award presentations and live music. Rachel went on to say that if the cinema was revived, it could help to revitalise the town centre and become a focal point for the community, while interacting with businesses, schools and colleges. “I feel it could be a viable proposition to restore the cinema and that it would prove of real benefit to the Hucknall community,” said Rachel. “I carried out a small survey in Hucknall and the response was very positive.”

It was agreed to look into costings and explore possible funding sources for what was acknowledged to be a formidable financial challenge. A further meeting is to be arranged.

A century of entertainment at the pictures

Cinema historian RICK WILDE traces the history of the movies in Hucknall.

In all probability the first flickering pictures shown in the town were presented by travelling fairground showmen. By the autumn of 1897 they had become well-established at Wakes Weeks everywhere.

It is therefore surprising that films were never part of the bill at the Theatre Royal, which had opened on Annesley Road on April 26, 1901. Music hall artists appeared in between the plays and pantomimes that culminated in closure, rather abruptly on December 3 1904. Apparently the difficulties in obtaining touring shows, the cost of large scale productions and the public's changing tastes regarding the music hall style of presentation, were the key factors in its demise. Carefully taken down in sections, it was transported by a series of goods trains to Glossop on the northern tip of Derbyshire. Here it was reassembled jig-saw fashion, given a new name and a new lease of life.

The town's first cinema was the Electric Picturedrome. This was erected as a primitive Methodist Chapel of 1870 that had been recently leased to the Wesleyan Faith and was now surplus to requirements. Following conversion work it opened on September 30, 1909 with The Mystery of Edwin Drood and other pictures. The house seated 290, the proprietor was Alec Jeffories, his operator was John Parker and the solo pianist was Marjorie Leslie. Admission was 2d and 4d downstairs and 6d on the horseshoe-shaped, and very steeply stepped, balcony. A matinee at 2pm every Saturday for 1d drew capacity houses.

As was the custom of the day, smoking was allowed, and refreshments were on sale.

When the Pilot Palace opened on February 24, 1913 with Love In A Laundry, many picture-goers transferred their allegiance as the house (on the site of the old Theatre Royal) was considerably larger (it seated 900) and was better appointed. A four-piece orchestra accompanied the silent pictures, occasionally assisted by a sound-effects man. A local magazine The Torkard Times run by Maureen Newton will provide far more information.

Acquired by the Scala and Globe Company of Ilkeston, the Palace closed in November 1914 to be refurbished. It re-opened under the Scala name on December 14, 1914, showing The Hunchback of Cedar Lodge amongst others.

Such activity caused the Chapel Street Picturedrome to close in December 1914 when its five-year lease expired. However, it did re-open on January 9 1915 for Sunday nights presenting a religious picture as part of an Eventide Concert, but despite its prices only being 2d and 3d, it still drew small audiences compared to the Scala which could charge as much as 9d and still draw capacity houses. The Picturedrome ran its last film The Angel of Mons on Sunday, May 9, 1916.

A rival entertainment house known as the Byron Roller Skating Rink had opened on Vine Terrace on March 17 1910 at a time when, unfortunately, the craze was past its peak. Thus the rink closed in August that year only to re-appear as a rink and picture house. It ran films Monday to Wednesday and had skating from Thursday to Saturday. This meant that seating had to be brought in every Monday morning and likewise removed each Thursday morning.

This begs the question: Where were they stored? Perhaps some elderly historian will furnish the answer, along with a photograph of the building in its heyday. Tucked away down a back water with no high profile, it seems that of all the photographers who have bestrode the town, none ventured down Vine Terrace.

According to local advertising its new identity was an instant success when the venue re-opened on September 3 1910, but within two years the urge to skate had died, so it again underwent change. A carnival night was held to close the rink, and following the film The Sheriff's Daughter on July 3 1912, it closed.

Internally altered and renamed, the Hucknall Empire opened as a picture and variety house on July 20 1912. Half a dozen films were presented, headed by His Las Shot, supported by a stage pageant headed by the Golden Girls and comedian George Parsons.

The Empire and the Scala were effectively at opposite ends of the town and were able to share the large catchment audience for the next 24 years. Meantime the talkie revolution had arrived in Nottingham, and the Empire was quick to embrace this new medium. In a blaze of glory it presented MGM's wonderful musical Broadway Melody, adopting the Marshall sound-on-disc system, made by a Nottingham pioneer at his works in the city. Presented on Boxing Day 1929, it was the ideal Christmas present for the locals who thronged the narrow Vine Terrace.

For the record, it would be almost a year later before the Scala could compete. Their first talkie being The Desert Song on October 20, 1930.

The age of the Art-Deco super cinema arrived when the Byron opened on November 2, 1936 with Shirley Temple as The Littlest Rebel. Once established, its owners R L Kemp were faced with a dilemma as they also owned the Empire around the corner, a mere stone's throw away. Business here plummeted, so they closed it on January 29 1938, leaving it unused until December 1939 when it ran a series of film-shows for children over the Christmas holidays, culminating with Red Wagon on January 27, 1940. It was proposed to turn it into a dance hall. The interior was stripped out, licences were sought and granted, but that seems to be all. A consensus of opinion suggests that the Urban District Council commandeered the house for a variety of uses. The auditorium was partitioned to make offices for the Ministry of Food, unemployment office, Social Security and general advisory centre. The council vacated the place in the spring of 1945, when the partitions were removed and the house refurbished, given a new stage and lighting and opened as a dance hall, with many locals I have spoken to recalling fondly the nights when they tripped the light fantastic – even when it was on 78rpm records. Hostilities had ceased on Tuesday, May 8, 1945, and to celebrate this event a dance was held on the Saturday evening, although local advertising is very scarce. Apparently the final dance was held here on Saturday, January 31, 1953 when the licences were cancelled. Since then the old building has been periodically knocked about to accommodate several different firms, and presently stands as a leisure club.

Meantime the Byron's proprietors had taken over the Scala on 1940 and small improvements to the fabric of the house were made at intervals. Business those days was very good, marred only by an ugly incident on September 30, 1947, that left a man stabbed in the face after an altercation during the performance. By the end of the Fifties the Scala was becoming unviable. It did not install the Cinemascope process which would enable it to show the big productions from Fox, Warner and MGM, all of which went onto the Byron instead. Sadly the Scala's days were numbered. It quietly closed its doors on June 23, 1962, when the last reel of Tiger in the Smoke ended. It brought to a close a 50 year life span. The premises eventually became an annex to the Co-op store, and were demolished in 2001.

The company also had little use for the 1,250-seat Byron, embarking on a bold plan to 'twin' the auditorium using the stalls as a bingo and social club, keeping the balcony area with its 400 seats for cinematic use. January 1968 saw the new complex open under the headline: The Showplace of Hucknall.

The bingo club was featured in the Shane Meadows film Once Upon A Time In The Midlands showing actress Kathy Burke and Vanessa Feltz playing the machines and winning a round at bingo before coming to blows in the foyer.

The cinema upstairs, closed by R L Kemp as being no longer viable in August 1977, was taken over by L P H Limited, then owners of the Savoy Nottingham and run successfully for the next 15 years before changing hands, and names, a few more times. It finally closed under the name of Cannon on June 29, 2006, its last film being The Omen.

Article first appeared on This is Nottingham on Tuesday, 10th February 2009 and is reproduced from the original

The Byron as part of Cinematic History

Shades of Hollywood at Hucknall's Byron bingo hall

Published on 06/09/2002 12:43

Robert Carlyle and Kathy Burke get starry eyed in Once upon a time in the Midlands

Robert Carlyle and Kathy BurkeA Bingo session in Hucknall might help film director Shane Meadows to cash in on a box-office bonanza. For a scene at the Byron Bingo Centre on High Street is featured in Meadows's new 3 million movie, 'Once Upon A Time In The Midlands', which hits cinema screens on general release today.

Top British actors including Robert Carlyle ('The Full Monty' and 'Trainspotting'), Ricky Tomlinson ('The Royle Family') and Rhys Ifans star in the movie. Meadows himself plays a bingo-caller in the scenes shot at the Byron, while Kathy Burke ('Gimme, Gimme, Gimme') appears as one of the punters who is hit on the head with a microphone.

The fact that the much-anticipated film was to be partly shot in Hucknall was exclusively revealed by the Dispatch in August 2001. Filming dates and exact locations were closely-guarded secrets but when crews and trucks of equipment descended on Hucknall in September, the Dispatch was there. Denis Burgin, owner of the Byron Cinema, even got to speak to Kathy Burke in between shooting and said she "was very down to earth". He told the Dispatch this week: "Everyone involved with the Byron are delighted it is to be featured on the big screen and can't wait to show the film."

Meadows (29) hails from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire and lives in Burton-On-Trent. But he has had a strong affection for the Nottingham area since he went to college in the city. In turn, people of Nottingham have taken him to their hearts. The film completes a Nottingham trilogy for Meadows after his first two feature films, 'TwentyFourSeven', starring Bob Hoskins, and 'A Room For Romeo Brass' were set in the city. Most of 'Once Upon A Time In The Midlands' was shot in Carlton but Meadows recalls his time in Hucknall where he sampled some curry and chips. But he also remembers that shooting could only take place on certain days because of noise disturbance from engine-testing at the Rolls-Royce plant on Watnall Road.

The pressure is on for this movie to be a box-office hit after Meadows's previous two film's failed to make enough cash.

But if an enthusiastic full house including Dispatch chief reporter Denis Robinson for a special preview screening at Nottingham's Showcase Cinema on Monday is anything to go by, the film looks set to be a smash hit. Described as a 'modern-day western', the film is a comedy-drama in which Ifans is cast as the likeable Dek, who proposes to his girlfriend (Shirley Henderson), on Vanessa Feltz's TV chat show. Overcome with embarrassment, Shirley turns him down. To make matters worse for Dek, Shirley's feckless ex, Jimmy (Carlyle), sees the programme. He heads for home to win back Shirley's heart and also to be reunited with his daughter, Marlene (played by 13-year-old Clifton girl Finn Atkins), who now looks upon Dek as her dad.

The film is co-written by Paul Fraser and was made by Slate Films with financial backing from FilmFour and The Film Council.

Byron's Mine

Leslie Phillips in Hucknall Library Car Park

A typical pose taken by Leslie Phillips rubbing his hands in glee as he observes 'all human life' in the Hucknall Library car park!

"In 1824 Lord Byron's body was brought back from Greece and buried with his mother and other relatives". In 1938 his tomb in the little mining town of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, was secretly opened and his embalmed body was viewed by the local vicar, who commented specifically on the poet's manhood, "His sexual organ was of quite abnormal development."

National treasure and veteran of innumerable great comic roles, Leslie Phillips, stars in this second broadcast short feature, by British artist, Nick McCann. A bawdy innuendo-ridden romp in the English tradition of Rowlandson and the ‘Carry On’ series, psychic medium (Dana Gillespie), her blowsy blonde friend (Tricia George) and vicar (Leslie Phillips), cook up a publicity scheme to boost funds for the church where Byron is buried. The terrible trio rope in an unemployed miner come taxi driver (Nick McCann) and his Moll (1980s glamour girl Debby Quorrol), to discover whether Byron was really there and whether the rumours are true. Hot on their heels is Dick the dirty detective (Dicken Ashworth), and his sidekick (Chris Ellis). Harry Toseland is the Estate agent.

Shot in Super-16mm black & white, in the authentic locations by Ray Goode (awarded his BSC for his Lighting Cameraman work Granada TV’s ‘Brideshead Revisited’), the film was broadcast on ITV in 1993. The soundtrack features tracks from Dana Gillespie’s album ‘Blues It Up’ 1990. Dana Gillespie’s music is available on iTunes. Writer, Director – Nick McCann, Producers – Ian Vasey & Geoffrey Bond, Trailer Film Editor – Theo Leeds.

Copyright Nick McCann Associates Ltd All Rights Reserved

The Campaign to save the Byron

2013 is not the first time a campaign has been launched - in 2010 the following article appeared in the Hucknall Dispatch :

Byron Cinema set to open again

Published on 17/09/2010 11:50

The curtain could soon be going up again on Hucknall's Byron Cinema, which has been closed for about four years. For cinema entrepreneur Trevor Harris says he is keen to re-open the Byron before Christmas.

The cinema, which dates from the 1930s, is in the same building as the Byron Bingo Hall at the junction of High Street and Duke Street. The business is now owned by Tharmalingham Sritharan, otherwise known as Sri, who said he was anxious for the cinema to be re-opened as soon as possible.

"I want it to be revived because the cinema is just so much wasted space at present," said Sri. "In the present economic downturn, this state of affairs is unacceptable. All that is needed for the cinema to open again is a new screen, which will cost about 300, plus a bit of painting, improved seating and new carpeting. Because of Mr Harris's contacts, it is anticipated that new releases of films will be obtained. This would mean that Hucknall people can see the latest hit movies on their doorstep instead of having to travel all the way to Nottingham city centre. A university lecturer who is an expert on cinemas will be in touch with us to offer advice," said Sri. "But one point I would like to stress is that it is obviously vital for the people of Hucknall to support this venture to make it justifiable."

The Byron had suffered from a general decline in patronage of cinemas over a number of years but a key factor in the lengthy closure was controversy involving the last owner, Asif Sahil, and the way he ran the establishment. One example was that, after a complaint by a filmgoer, the Dispatch established that the Byron was not covered by fire regulations. Sri said this was the main reason why he had been reluctant, up to now, to revive the cinema. But he stressed: "I have every confidence in Mr Harris because of the highly professional way he ran a cinema I own in Staveley, Derbyshire. I am sure he would make an excellent job of running the Byron."

Mr Harris has been keen to open a cinema in Hucknall for some time and has looked at other possible venues, including the former Bourne Methodist Church on Beardall Street. He said: "It has long been my ambition to re-open the Byron and it is a really exciting prospect. But I do not want to make any further comment at the moment and I will wait until the negotiations have been completed."

Unfortunately this article was swiftly followed by one headed:

Fresh doubts over the future of the Byron Cinema

Published on 07/11/2010 10:30 - Hucknall Dispatch

More confusion has arisen over a deal to re-open Hucknall’s Byron Cinema — despite reassurances from the owner of the iconic building. As reported in the Dispatch, two men behind the scheme are at loggerheads. They are owner Tharmalingham Sritharan, otherwise known as Sri, and Trevor Harris, who runs a cinema in Staveley at another of Sri’s properties. Mr Harris says an agreement was in place for him to rent the Byron and run it independently. But Sri wants involvement in the project and suggested opening the cinema as a 50-50 partnership. This deal was put on the table but it now seems dead and buried because of more problems behind the scenes.

Even so, Sri has again reiterated his commitment to the Byron and has promised it will be open in time to show Christmas flicks in the run-up to the festive season. He says that a visit by health and safety inspectors from Ashfield District Council this week went very well and that a licence could be granted by the end of the month. A new fire-alarm system has been fitted and Sri says that apart from “a few small recommendations”, it is all systems go. Should the licence be granted soon, this would pave the way for the cinema to open for the premiere of a film being created as part of the British Art Show Fringe on the history of movie-theatres in Nottingham, including the Byron. Sri said: “All I need to do now is start booking the films, which is quite complicated. But I have a friend who is willing to help with that. Everything is nearly ready. The screen is there and a sound system needs to be fitted. We will definitely be opening, even if I have to run it myself.”

As far as the partnership with Mr Harris is concerned, Sri said: “It has been offered but he needs to come back to me and say yes or no.” A disappointed Mr Harris told the Dispatch he cannot see how the current deal on offer can work and he hasn’t spoken to Sri for days. He claims there is a major amount of work to be done before the Byron could be opened to paying customers. Mr Harris says new carpets must be fitted, seating improved and technology installed. He added: “It is a shame. I have the equipment and things like seating all ready to go in. But it looks like we won’t be able to reach a deal where we work together on the Byron.”

The cinema has stood idle for more than four years, although the Byron Bingo hall has continued to run.

Now we have fresh hope under the banner of :

Will cinema make dramatic return?

By Rebecca Smith-Dawkins

A community has come together to discuss ambitious plans to reopen a cinema in their town. More than 30 Hucknall residents gathered at the Sure Start Children's Centre, in Broomhill Road, to show their support in getting the once popular Byron Cinema up and running again. The meeting was led Stuart Pocklington, 33, a member of the newly formed I Love Hucknall group, which hopes to regenerate the town centre. Mr Pocklington said: "The cinema is the first thing you see when you come into the town. I have been there countless times since I was a youngster and the place has many great memories for me and my family. I am gob-smacked at how many people are interested in this and I would like everyone to chip in and get involved. I am a big Hucknall fan and Hucknall deserves something to add some sparkle into the town centre."

The iconic building, on the corner of the High Street, is currently being used as a bingo hall, and has not shown any film screenings since 2006. Mr Pocklington added that there are no longer seats or a sound system in the cinema, and the screen is laid flat on the floor in bits.

Rachel Whitemore, who works in the research office at the University of Nottingham, presented the 'Save the Byron Cinema' business plan at the meeting. Her plan included using the building for a multi-functional purpose, including a cinema, arts centre and business space for conferences. Ms Whitemore said: "It would be amazing if it got put into action again and the business plan worked. I remember going to the cinema when it was open. I got really into the business plan when I was doing it."

'I love Hucknall' group member Michelle Squires said she also remembers watching films at the Byron Cinema. She said: "It is about getting Hucknall up and running again. I think it would bring the town together. Everyone can get behind this and get involved in it." Local resident Helen Hemstock, 35, said she would love to take her two-year-old daughter to the cinema if it re-opened. She said: "It would be really nice for it to open again. It is a shame for it to get old and crumble."

Mr Pocklington will hold another public meeting at a future date to inform residents.


Happily, only the seating : on ebay - if I had seen these I would have been tempted to buy, am hoping to get a photo of the auction in the meantime this is how the item sales were described :

Vintage Art Deco Cinema Seats (Approximately 34 Available)
Suitable for home cinema, cafes, bars, waiting areas

The Item specifics were recorded as:

Product Type : Cinema Seat
Age: 1900-1950
Original (as opposed to Reproduction)
Material :Fabric
Style Art Deco

Vintage Art Deco Cinema Seat

These seats were installed and subsequently recently recovered from the now closed Byron Cinema, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. The cinema opened in 1936.

There are inevitably some marks and wear with some corrosion, although the seats were re-covered approximately 8 years ago and in use up to five years ago. The seats were originally attached to the floor, which gives them the stability they require for use. This is easily done
and I have used some of the seats in my cafe/bistro business to create a relaxed seating area. They have proved to be very popular! On both sides of the chairs are fixings for the next seat to attach.

Please Note: The pictures show a 'row end plate' being used, these have now all been sold, so the seats available now will be open - ready for the next seat to be attached. The seat is weighted to tilt upwards and in the photos it is being held in place from behind. Some of the seats tip up automatically some do not.

The condition of each seat will vary.
A single seat dimensions are: Height: 81cm Width: 60cm Depth: 55cm


A single seat dimensions are: Height: 81cm Width: 60cm Depth: 55cm
The seats are available for viewing  - please e-mail to make arrangements

Collection in person is required. I can however make a delivery locally for an agreed fee, or alternatively you will need to arrange your own courier
Cash on collection or Paypal

FOR SALE - however there is a Sale Notice on the Building

For sale notice


Opened as the Byron Cinema on 2nd November 1936 screening Shirley Temple and John Boles in “The Littlest Rebel”. It had a total seating capacity of 1,189 which were located in stalls and circle. The architect was Alfred J. Thraves of Nottingham who designed an Art Deco cinema (in the style of an Odeon Cinema) that had a sweeping curved brick facade, highlighted by a vertical fin tower feature on the right hand side that was faced in cream tera-cotta tiles.

The Byron closed as a single screen cinema on 13th October 1967 screening Burt Lancaster in “The Professionals”. The building was then split into two sections, the former stalls area downstairs becoming a bingo club and the former balcony upstairs became a 404 seat cinema, which re-opened on 31st December 1967 with the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”. It had a change of name in 2003 when it was re-named Cineplex, but the cinema closed in June 2006. The entire building is now in use as a bingo club.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Ashfield District Council

Produced a leaflet which can be downloaded here and you can see a fragment on the home page

Byron Ghosts Project on You Tube

Web-page narrative plus photo: In 2010 Sideshow commissioned Annexinema to create an event and new work at the Byron Bingo (formerly cinema) in Hucknall. During our time researching the building, Nes quietly filmed its disused and crumbling auditorium, projection booth and other corners gathering dust.

Dallas Simpson, whom we had commissioned to work with us at the Byron, undertook a similar exploration, but in sound. Dallas produced a hauntingly beautiful binaural recording of the building as he improvised in real time with found objects, furniture, equipment and surfaces in the cinema. On the night of the event, audience members each listened with their own set of headphones, as the cinema was awakened with the sound of its past.

Having had time to reflect on the process and work undertaken at the Byron, in 2012 we decided to create a new work that combined our footage and Dallas's sound. Nes edited these together into a short film called Byron Ghosts. We submitted the work to Nottingham's Castle Open Exhibition and were pleased to be included in the show, and even more pleased when the film won the Broadway Artists' Film & Video Award

You can watch a shortened version of the film on YouTube here. With thanks to Jennie Season, Dallas Simpson, Byron Bingo, Tries Aver, and Mat Trivet.

Published on Act 5, 2012

YouTube narrative: Byron Ghosts takes the form of a quasi-parapsychological investigation of the disused Byron Cinema in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. As the camera moves through the darkened building, it seems to awaken memories of former functionality, as the light beams and refracts through gaps in crumbling brickwork casting images onto the hallowed walls. The soundtrack uses on-site binaural field recordings by Dallas Simpson.

Web-page narrative plus photo: In 2010 Sideshow commissioned Annexinema to create an event and new work at the Byron Bingo (formerly cinema) in Hucknall. During our time researching the building, Nes quietly filmed its disused and crumbling auditorium, projection booth and other corners gathering dust.

From modernity to memorial: the changing meanings of the 1930s cinema in Nottingham

Full University of Nottingham thesis available here

Welcome to Hucknall BBC style

When you head towards the High Street you'll spot The Byron Spinelle and Bingo Hall... it's a 1930s building, a little in disrepair, but I'm told it's one of only 15 existing types in Britain. It may look a little grotty but when you consider the fate of Bulwell's former equivalent, The Ad el phi, you'll appreciate it a lot more. For the full article visit here

Club Background And History

Although we don't know much about Byron Bingo Hucknall, we do know a bit about the venue's past. It originally opened as the Byron Cinema in 1936, with a seating capacity of 1,189. The design was of the fairly common Art Deco style. The cinema closed in 1967, then reopened with the premises split for cinema and bingo. It was renamed Spinelle in 2003, and closed in 2006, but bingo is still being called.

Can you help us fill in more details about the Byron Bingo Hucknall Club? If you can then please contact us. We would love to hear from you if you can help us with these and any other details and interesting facts about this club.

From the Playing Bingo website


From this:

Current view (courtesy of 'I Love Hucknall' of a barren auditorium (see Flickr pictures below for formerly glorious interior - permission to use not yet granted)

To this:

(Reproduction of the Savoy in Worksop recently refurbished)

The Byron Gallery

Compilation postcard of Hucknall

A compilation postcard of Hucknall showing the Byron Cinema without the Bingo attachments and reminds us that the column originally displayed the name of the Cinema - the postcard was produced by 'Reflections of a Bygone Age' and designed by Michael O'Brien

Byron Cinema Windows

Byron overview

Of the Byron cinema in Hucknall the work of Alfred J. Thraves, who also designed The Dale in Sneinton

© Copyright David Ally and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


Owner 'rich box frenzy' describes his Flickr collection as: One of only 15 of these Art Deco Odeon cinemas surviving in the country, the Byron in Hucknall is disused upstairs. It was divided from a full height cinema in 1967 with the stalls being converted to a bingo, which still continues today. The 404 seat cinema closed in 2007 and sits silently in the dark.

The owner of this collection (Rich) has now given permission for the images to be reproduced in this gallery.

Byron Auditorium from entry

The balcony auditorium as enjoyed by visitors to the Byron Cinema before it closed its doors.

Byron Auditorium from exit vantage

And an alternative view which confirms what a lovely and comfortable cinema this was prior to its closure

Byron Auditorium seating Byron seating close-up

Luxurious and plush seating in a rich and warm reddish coloured fabric

Byron Projector Byron Projector detail

The secrets of the Projection Room (cherish them while you may as the new projections will be digital)

Glass detail

Byron Corridor

Leaving the cinema it was always nice to stop and admire the glasswork detail so typical of the Art Deco period

From 'I Love Hucknall'

The owner of this collection Stuart Hens on-Pock ling ton has given permission for the images to be reproduced in this gallery - I have chosen a selection of those closest to the ones from the 'rich box frenzy' set to show how the cinema has been vandalised. There are also some interesting additional shots.

Derelict Auditorium

The balcony auditorium no longer fit for purpose.

And an alternative view which confirms the degeneration and neglect of the cinema auditorium.

Broken seats Debris

Luxurious and plush seating no more and general debris

Film Projector Film Projector

Close-up film projectore Close-Up Film Projector

The secrets of the Projection Room have survived (so far)

The Weird and Wonderful and Different

Decorative Tiles

Tiles: Ceramic tiles depicting life in Hucknall can be found in the sensory garden at the front of St Mary Magdalene churchyard

(Not Hucknall interior but Bradford in Nottingham Carlton Bingo Bradford)

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Page updated : 22nd March 2019 (G)