Sudbury: Lecture will retell Sudbury’s cinema heyday

Simon Frampton is re-launching a film club that will be held in Sudbury theatre. Simon Frampton is re-launching a film club that will be held in Sudbury theatre.

Emma Brennan
West Suffolk chief reporter emma.brennan@archant.co.uk
Monday, March 31, 2014
12:57 PM

As campaigners push to secure a new cinema for Sudbury, a local film buff is reflecting on the days when movie-goers in the town had their pick of two picture houses.

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Simon Frampton, who runs a monthly film club at the Quay Theatre, is calling for people who can remember Sudbury in its cinematic heyday to provide him with anecdotes for a talk he is giving this Sunday.

He would like to hear from anyone who whiled away their afternoons in King Street’s plush County Picture Palace or the slightly less upmarket Gainsborough cinema in East Street.

He said: “The Gainsborough Electric Theatre was among the first purpose-built cinemas in the provinces when it opened in 1912 but the later County Cinema was considered a real ‘picture palace.’ It was pulled down in the 1960s.

“Many people will remember The County and Gainsborough but films were also shown in a building behind the White Horse. I would love any local people who either worked at the cinemas or enjoyed patronising them to contact me with their reminiscences.”

Among those who are pushing to get cinema brought back to the town is John Sayers, whose cousin worked as an usherette at the Gainsborough. He has fond recollections of both of the former cinemas.

He said: “The Gainsborough –which was always referred to as the Flea Pit – was a bit more downmarket and the projector used to flicker so sometimes the audience would be left in complete darkness.

“That was handy for the youngsters who wanted to sneak in through the back door without paying.

“The County, on the other hand, had a posh restaurant upstairs and a hexagonal table in the foyer with fresh flowers on it.

“My father and his friends started a campaign to save the building and turn it into a conference centre but it eventually got pulled down.”

Plans to build a new cinema complex in the Hamilton Road area of Sudbury are set to forge ahead this year.

Members of the town’s steering group believe a cinema with cafes and restaurants would give a welcome boost to the town’s night-time economy.

Mr Frampton’s lecture, The Birth and Death of Sudbury Cinemas, is on April 6 at the Quay Theatre. Call him on 01787 580453 or email press@quaytheatre.org.uk.

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