Town centre was once home to several cinemas
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. co.uk
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