Town cen­tre was once home to sev­eral cin­e­mas

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Growth Projection -

The plan to ex­pand Ash­ford’s Cineworld with an ex­tra three screens – on top of the pre­vi­ous an­nounce­ment that a new pic­ture­house is be­ing built in the town cen­tre as part of the multi-mil­lion pound El­wick Road de­vel­op­ment - is wel­come news for movie fans.

The town once boasted sev­eral cin­e­mas, with only the for­mer Odeon build­ing in the High Street (now Mecca bingo) sur­viv­ing as the others were all de­mol­ished for var­i­ous de­vel­op­ment schemes.

In the 1930s, the cinema was one of the main forms of en­ter­tain­ment in the UK.

Dur­ing the war years, and post-war aus­ter­ity of the 1940s, cinema-go­ing reached a peak at over 1.64 bil­lion ad­mis­sions in 1946.

After this post war peak, there was a grad­ual de­cline in the 1950s, be­fore a dra­matic drop through­out the 1960s and 1970s.

By 1 984, an­nual cinema ad­mis­sions had fallen to a low of just 54 mil­lion.

It seemed the cinema was on its death-bed but since 1984 there has been a no­table turn­around in the pop­u­lar­ity of the cinema, with an­nual at­ten­dances in­creas­ing to just un­der 180 mil­lion.

That fig­ure is still way be­hind the 1940s, but is ev­i­dence that new tech­nol­ogy doesn’t have to mean the end of ‘tra­di­tional old me­dia’.

Do you have any mem­o­ries of Ash­ford’s old cin­e­mas? If so please write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.

The open­ing night of the new Odeon Cinema, in the Lower High Street, Ash­ford in 1936; the Royal Cinema de Luxe which opened in Beaver Road in 1912

Above and be­low, the Odeon cinema which opened in 1936 and closed in 1976 and is now Mecca Bingo; de­mo­li­tion of the Ash­ford Pic­ture Palace in Tufton Street in 1962

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