BOY WHO HELPED FIT THE­ATRE CAR­PET IS BACK, AF­TER 47 YEARS

Llanelli Star - - Front Page - Robert Dalling @RobertDall­ing [email protected]­di­awales.co.uk 01554 700811

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.

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