electricians, offered their services. Initial work involved tearing down the partition walls and replacing the gas and electricity systems and drains. Broken plasterwork was also restored from floor to ceiling. Of the cinema’s interior fittings, both the shell lights and stucco waves are original. However, the chandelier was long lost, so a new one was installed with period-style mirrors. With the absence of the original foyer, a new entrance was created on the side of the building, with outside steps leading up to circle level. To raise funds, seat sponsorship was sold at prices ranging from £300-500. Some residents offered loans, all of which were eventually paid back. Eventually £7,000 was raised which covered the cost of new seats, a digital projector and screen.
The Rex re-opened in 2004 with The Third Man. The screenplay was written by author Graham Greene, who was born in the town. With the opening came a new concept: light refreshments served during the screenings. “Because some people come here straight from work, we started offering cheese and biscuits with wine,” says James. “This remains ridiculously popular. We also sell the sort of snacks you would expect, such as popcorn, though everything is decanted from crinkly packets into tubs to make the least noise.” The circle’s 200 seats are spaced so occupants can stretch out without touching the one in front, while the stalls accommodate another 100 film fans. A visit to The Rex aims to provide a relaxed ambience in stylish surroundings. Modern-day film-goers are entertained in a cinema where sympathetic interior renovation reflects its authentic Art Deco exterior. It has captured an era which reflects the golden age of the screen.
In the stalls, tables are swathed in white tablecloths and dotted with small lamps. The riot of decoration includes scallop-shaped light fittings and stucco waves.
The scallop-shaped light fittings are originals (top). The geometric shapes of this light are typical of the Art Deco period (above).