Screen classics return for 80th anniversary at Ulverston's Roxy cinema

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9 June 2017 2:32PM

IT will be 80 years on Wednesday, June 21, since Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy starred in Rose-Marie as the first movie to be shown at the new Roxy cinema in Ulverston

To mark the event, the Memories Page is looking at the history of the picture house and at celebrations to mark its anniversary.

The Roxy, which has been run by Northern Morris Cinemas since 2007, is showing a series of classic films, each with a supporting programme of archive clips.

It has already featured the 1951 comedy The Lavender Hill Mob and the 1945 romance Brief Encounter, which stars Trevor Howerd and Celia Johnson – with Carnforth railway station in a supporting role.

On the exact anniversary day of June 21, the next film will be Errol Flynn in the 1938 classic The Adventures of Robin Hood.

You can just turn up for the 8pm performance but advance booking is needed for a VIP reception from 7pm which includes wine and canapés and music from the Roxettes jazz band.

In Thursday, July 6, at 8pm you can see the 1940 psychological thriller Rebecca, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine and on Saturday, July 15, at 8pm, it is the 1972 film Cabaret, featuring Liza Minelli and Michael York and set in the Berlin of 1931.

On Thursday, July 27, you can catch the 1942 romance Now Voyager, starring Bette Davis, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid.

This is how the Ulverston News reported the opening night of June 21 back in 1937.

Mrs Kennedy, wife of the mine-owning Myles Kennedy, of Stone Cross mansion, officially opened the cinema in Brogden Street.

It noted: “The palatial building housed a gathering of 1,300 people and the audience was thoroughly representative of the town and district.

From the moment one entered the foyer to the final curtain one heard on every hand exclamations of delight at the beauty and comfort of Ulverston’s new super cinema.

“Those who had followed with such interest the work of construction during the past few weeks were equally interested on gaining their first glimpse of the luxurious interior, and it is certainly the last word in comfort.

“The artistry of the interior decorations was enhanced by clever lighting effects which seemed to exude a warmth of welcome to the crowded house.”

The cinema was built by Barrow’s Hugh Rainey for the successful theatre and cinema entrepreneur James Brennan.

His new Ulverston picture palace was managed by Horace Ridley. His last post had been at the Gaiety in Barrow.

While Rose-Marie was the main film, there was time to feature a short film starring Ulverston-born comic Stan Laurel and his screen partner Oliver Hardy.

The paper noted that messages of support had been sent by screen stars such as Gordon Harker, George Arliss and Jessie Matthews.

Stan Laurel wrote to say: “May the Ulverstonians be as proud of the Roxy as I am of Ulverston. Heartiest congratulations.”

In an earlier article on the new cinema it was noted: “The building has been erected in the remarkable short period of four-and-a-half months, the old County Mews which previously occupied the site having to be demolished.

“Similarly, the County Bowling Clubhouse, which also formed part of the site has had to make way for the cinema.

“In this case, however, the old club premises were taken down and an entirely new club erected adjoining the cinema.”

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