BOY WHO HELPED FIT THEATRE CARPET IS BACK, AFTER 47 YEARS
WAYNE Davies was just 11 when he helped his father fit distinctive carpet to the floor of an old cinema in 1971.
The young man joined his dad Len on a job at Llanelli’s former Odeon cinema, later known as Theatr Elli, where he gave him a hand putting down the red square classic cinemastyle carpet in the foyer and circle bar.
He remembers it with fondness, as the projectionist put his name up on the big screen, making him “famous”.
But he could never have predicted that 47 years later he would be doing the same thing again – with the exact same carpet.
A new luxury carpet will be fitted throughout the cinema in 2019, as part of William Ratti and Tina Tracey’s revamp plans for the theatre, but the old carpet was kept in storage with a view of installing it in the backstage dressing rooms.
Mr Davies went on to become a professional flooring contractor in his own right, following in the footsteps of his dad who died in January aged 76 following a long illness, and he returned to carry out the nostalgic job.
“I was accompanying my dad, basically fetching and carrying,” Mr Davies, 58, of Machynys in Llanelli, recalled.
“My dad fitted some of the carpets as he was contracted as a fitter. I remember being there with him for the day. It sticks out in my mind because the projectionist put my name on the screen.
“Fond memories all came back to me because of that and the time I spent with my dad.
“My dad passed away this year so it was nice memories of working with him. I’m sure he would have been quite chuffed about it.”
The former Llanelli Entertainment Centre is being given a complete revamp by Tumble businessman Mr Ratti, and Ms Tracey, of Calon Llanelli Ltd. Theatr Elli closed its doors in 2012, and was purchased by Mr Ratti two years later.
Since then, they have been working hard to restore the grade two listed Station Road building to its former glory, with plans to invest £2 million.
The building could be turned into a 1,000-seat concert venue, a 400-seat second auditorium and a cafe and wine bar. It would also include the first luxury cinema experience in Wales with one screening a night aimed at an older demographic with fine food and wine. There would also be fitness classes throughout the day to ensure the centre remains busy.
The building first opened in 1938 and remained active in the town for more than 70 years.
Outside, the original canopy design is to be brought back, and signs will be put up, along with architectural neon lighting bands in the style and colours of the original.
There are also plans to install a replica of the 1938 ticket kiosk in the centre of the foyer and to reinstate original style handrails to foyer and tower staircases.
The circle bar as it was is to be turned into a bar and café area and the main auditorium of the theatre will be remodelled, with the removal of asbestosclad stud walls.
The existing stage floor will be extended into a seating area and then upper tiers will be extended into wider areas.
A new proscenium (the part of a theatre stage in front of the curtain) will be created with an orchestra pit and access steps up to a 1.2m height stage.
A bespoke carpet is to be manufactured for the venue based on the original Odeon fan design, in colours of gold, black, brown and cream and will be used throughout all of the public areas of the building.
Wayne Davies laying the old carpet at the former Odeon cinema in Llanelli.