Browsing the Dispatch archive in Hucknall Library, we found this headline dated November 1935: Hucknall to have a “super cinema” next year.
The article began: ‘The Hucknall Dispatch is able to reveal that Hucknall Empire Ltd have decided to erect an ultra-modern building on the High Street-Duke Street site.
Plans are now being prepared by Mr. A J Thraves, the Nottingham architect, and the company are expecting that the cinema will be open in August 1936.’
This was the first announcement of the Byron Cinema-to-be.
It was no spur-of-the-moment decision, as the Dispatch reports: ‘It is as long ago as 1920 that the Empire acquired the site, and on two previous occasions plans have been prepared for picture houses.
These were of course prepared with a view to showing silent pictures and have consequently since been scrapped.’
Now, passers-by today will know that the Salvation Army Hall next door is dated 1911, and houses up Duke Street have a 1910 date plaque.
So there is every chance, I think, that SOMETHING was built on the High Street-Duke Street corner before the Byron Cinema. The question is – what? Can any heritage-minded Dispatch readers supply the answer?
The Byron Community Project is just as much about identifying the Cinema’s heritage, as it is about getting the cinema up and running again.
So we would very much like to know how the land was used ‘BC’ – before Cinema!
As I write, the team are busy finishing the application for Heritage Lottery funding. We need to show we have as much support as possible from people in the town, and Dispatch readers can help us with that.
If you haven’t already done so, please search for “Byron Project Survey” online, and answer our 8-question survey. It takes about five minutes. We need you to do it by next week!
The 1935 Dispatch article hinted at luxuries to come. “It is our desire to bring Hucknall up-to-date with a cinema and sound system equal to that of any town in the country, Mr. J White told a reporter of this journal.
“And we feel the time has now come to go on with the scheme which will be worthy of the town and produce a cinema which will fully cater for the needs of the district, and for people who at the present time go out of town.”