Grantham Reel cinema to close: ‘It’s the end of an era’
Reel Cinema will close its doors for the final time next week after 35 years.
The cinema, which has stood on St Catherine’s Road since 1983, will welcome its last customers on Thursday.
It means that cinema-goers will face a lengthy wait until the new multiplex cinema in Grantham opens next year.
Grantham Reel cinema manager Lisa Bolton said: “The seven of us who work here will be made redundant. We were hoping that the time between closing and the opening of the new cinema would have been shorter so we could have reapplied for a new job. Our customers are also unhappy, especially those that don’t drive, as they will be without a cinema until the new one opens next year.”
The Paragon Cinema was opened on April 1, 1983 with “E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial”. It was a single screen seating 350 and was built for and operated by independent operator Robin Sanders. A second 166 seat screen was added in 1985.
Mr Sanders retired after nearly 23 years and sold it to Reel Cinemas, of Loughborough, in December 2005. It was re-named Reel Cinema in 2007.
When the Journal revealed news of the closure online earlier this week, many Grantham residents were keen to share their fond memories of the cinema, with some calling it ‘the end of an area.’
Liz Musson said: “It was unique. I still remember the curtain moving back.”
Mr Sanders’ nephew Andrew Milne, who now lives in Newcastle, remembers attending the opening show in 1983 with his uncle. He said: “One man’s vision, Robin Sanders! He poured his heart and soul into what was a little cinema. It was a family business supported by his family. So many fond memories. I still remember the opening showing and exactly where I sat.”
Mr Sanders’ son Graham is proud about what his dad achieved over the years.
He said: “No more Saturday matinees, Chiffy Kids and no more sticky carpet or torn tickets on strings. Robin and Angela Sanders created something that everyone destined to fail from the start but it lasted 23 years as a success and brought many happy memories to a lot of people. All the kids’ birthday parties, The paragon raft at the raft race, the costumes, film premieres and a little bit of Hollywood brought to sunny old Grantham town. I’m happy my dad did something that brought so many people together, made them happy and gave Grantham a cinema they could and should have been proud of.”
Plans to bring a new multi-screen cinema complex to the town centre were announced by South Kesteven District Council in 2014 with cinema chain Savoy named as the new operator last December.
The Grantham Savoy, which will have five screens and several restaurants, is expected to provide a huge boost for the town and the regeneration of St Peter’s Hill.
The South Kesteven District Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for development of the cinema project, Coun Jacky Smith, said: “We are really excited about bringing a state-of-the-art multiplex cinema to Grantham, but we are also equally conscious about the town being without a cinema for a period of time, which is why we have been working with partners to provide some amazing venues for film-goers.
“To bridge the gap between the Reel Cinema closing and our new facility opening, we are delighted that cinema-goers will be able to enjoy films in the spectacular surroundings of St Wulfram’s Church and the Guildhall Arts Centre, which will be running a programme of films over the coming months.”