Plans to re-open Byron Cinema collapse

THE BYRON Cinema in Hucknall
THE BYRON Cinema in Hucknall

THE DIRECTOR behind the epic tale surrounding plans to re-launch the Byron Cinema in Hucknall is yelling cut.

For the owner of the iconic building has admitted defeat and confided in the Dispatch that he will not be able to re-open to movie-goers after all.

Tharmalangham Sritharan, who is better known as Sri, said he had tried everything he possibly could to get the project off the ground.

But now it seems certain that films have been shown at the Byron for the last time. And it is possible that the building will be sold.

“Everywhere I have turned, I have hit a brick wall,” said the entrepreneur. “I have tried my best but there is nothing more I can do.

“I am really frustrated. I have put a lot into this and I wanted to make it a success for the residents of Hucknall. There is a lot of potential there, plus public support. But things just haven’t worked out.”

Sri now wants to rent out the top floor of the cinema building. Or he might consider selling the entire site, which also houses the long-running Byron bingo hall.

It will go on to the open market next week and is currently valued at a price of £345,000.

He would still like a businessman or company to come in and revive the plans for a cinema. But he assures Hucknallites that the future of the bingo hall is not in jeopardy.

Sri is also planning to market another cinema building he owns in Staveley, Derbyshire.

He added: “If someone comes along and offers the right price, then I would consider selling the Byron.

“I would love it if someone with cinema experience and the finances could come along and open the Byron Cinema.

“It is still a possibility. But it is something that I cannot do on my own. I have tried everything in the book.”

The Dispatch exclusively revealed last September that plans were in the pipeline to re-open the historic cinema, which stands at the corner of High Street and Duke Street.

The art deco building dates from the 1930s.

It closed as a cinema in 2006 after controversy surrounding how it was being run by a previous owner.

At one stage, it didn’t even have a fully-working fire alarm.

Through the pages of the Dispatch, Sri declared his intentions to re-open the cinema. He even set a deadline of Christmas.

The original project was to be a shared venture between himself and cinema entrepreneur Trevor Harris. At first, it was suggested a spend of just £300 on a new screen and cosmetic improvements, which would pave the way for the opening.

The signs were positive and the Byron even staged a premiere of a film on the history of Nottingham cinemas as part of the British Art Show Fringe.

However deadlines soon came and went and in November, the relationship soured between Sri and Mr Harris, who decided he had no choice but to pull out of the project.

Mr Harris claimed he could have got the cinema up and running within weeks but Sri had “moved the goalposts” of their agreement.

Sri pressed on regardless and made the necessary improvements to the building to gain a licence from Ashfield District Council.

He previously told the Dispatch that he needed to spend about £3,000 to complete the renovations but also required a partner with cinema experience to join the project.

A series of meetings was set up at the start of the New Year. Sri remained optimistic but he hasn’t been able to broker a deal.

Now, with the Byron and his Staveley cinema both closed, he is feeling pressure from the banks to meet his mortgage commitments.

He told the Dispatch: “The problem is that everyone is a bit worried. They do not want to commit too much money to a project.

“Everyone is struggling and everyone is in the same boat. My pressure is from the banks because my mortgage repayments are so high. I am losing money on Staveley and I’m having to rely on Byron Bingo for income.

“I have been in business for a long time but I’ve never been under so much pressure. But that’s the same for everyone all around the country.”