Photo: Janet Miles
The March/April 2012 edition of the Cinema Theatre Association Bulletin mentions the then forthcoming ninetieth anniversary of the Kinema-in-the-Woods, Woodhall Spa – one of the most eccentric and evocative film-going experiences in England.
The Pavilion Cinema opened in a converted cricket pavilion in 1922 and only later became known as the Kinema-in-the-Woods. It has always retained the original Greek spelling, derived from the word for ‘motion’.
The building started out as a cricket pavilion, and because the roof supports are integral to the structure, films have always been shown by back-projection of surprising clarity.
According to a 1937 advertisement, “while furnished with comfortable plush seats, deck chairs and cushions are provided for those who appreciate them”. The deck chairs on the front six rows were priced at 1s 6d, threepence dearer than the best fixed seats in the house.
The Kinema was operated for half a century by its founder, Major C C Allport: when he applied for his fiftieth licence in 1972 the magistrates waived the fee.
By the 1980s it had become a precious survival, and its next owner, James Green, installed the Compton organ from the Super Cinema, Charing Cross Road, to provide concerts in addition to current-release movies. Its console is mounted on the lift from the former Regent Cinema, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
Now there is a second screen, Kinema Too, opened in 1994, to complement the original auditorium and offer a wider variety of films.
Woodhall Spa is an unlikely spot to see first-release movies. But after all, Woodhall Spa is an unlikely spot.
The history of the Kinema-in-the-Woods can be found in Edward Roy Mayor, The Kinema in the Woods: the story of Woodhall Spa’s unique cinema (J W Green Cinemas 2002) and at http://www.thekinemainthewoods.co.uk/history.