Plea for return of town's cinema

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Following last week's announcement that Multiyork has gone into administration, local residents have taken to social media to call for the Rex building to be turned back into a cinema. 

The Rex building, one of our few Art Deco buildings in Wilmslow, was originally built as a cinema in 1936. It later diversified and was used for both professional and amateur theatre productions, as well as movies.

Alan Cooper of Wilmslow History Society told wilmslow.co.uk "It was actually often a testing ground for productions before they went to the West End. Stars like Susannah York, Denholm Elliot, Peter O'Toole, David Jason were on stage here.

"Interestingly it was the scene of some controversy when Oswald Mosley held a rally there on 5th November 1939 leading to some disturbances outside the cinema!"

Below are a selection of some of the comments posted on our Facebook page:

"Get it back as a Cinema, The Cinemac in the Heritage centre in Macclesfield does a roaring trade, nearly 1200 saw Paddington there on last Sunday alone over 4 showings. Hope the staff get alternative employment asap."

"Turn the building back into an amazing cinema."

"My thoughts exactly. The Savoy in Heaton Moor would be a good example to follow."

"Sad for the staff but I'd love to see a cinema back in wilmslow. As the poster above said, Cinemac have got it right, I was at Cinemac on Sunday to see large numbers turned away as it was full. Surely a cinema could be viable in our town !"

"Pleeeeeease turn it back into a cinema it would be so lovely to have it returned to its original use."

"Bring the cinema back to Wilmslow at the Rex, bring back some of the old character that it used to have! Still sad however for those who will lose their jobs!"

"Sorry for the shop staff, but another vote for cinema from me. Need a good independent company like Curzon to run it."

"Never been in since the Rex closed unfortunately.... would LOVE the old cinema back like they have in Knutsford."

"A great opportunity to bring back Wilmslow's long lost cinema!!!"

"It would be wonderful to have the Rex Cinema back! I'm sure there would be local support for it."

Brian Donohue, Chairman of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan Group said, "In responding to our surveys a lot of people said they would like a cinema in Wilmslow. In the Neighbourhood Plan we have linked this to other ideas such as a town centre theatre, arts, library and community facility and included an 'Arts facility for Wilmslow' as an aspiration (A9) in our Emerging Policies Document. We are drawing up the policies and aspirations in more detail at the moment."

Councillor Martin Watkins, Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council said "The Town Council is aware of the feedback received during the Neighbourhood Plan consultation with regards to a space in Wilmslow for film and arts and also of the fond regard that the public have for the Rex Building.

"The current situation is that the building is occupied and we wouldn't wish to add to the concerns of the employees that may be at risk by adding to speculation. Should the situation change then the Town Council would need to determine if and how it may get involved and if that opportunity was realistic."

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Hilary Pinnock
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 3:24 pm
The Rex theatre and cinema was a brilliant venue and is still sorely missed, I'm sure. If it were ever to re-open, I have no doubt it would do a roaring trade just like Macc's Cinemac and Knutsford's Curzon.
Go Rex!!!
Hilary P
Lesley Seddon
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 3:43 pm
I agree! I’d love to see the Rex reopen. I still feel a little sad when I walk past and lament its closing. The timing is perfect to open it again. The multi-plexes were a novelty at first but are pretty soulless. It would be wonderful to have the Rex back.
Mark Jackson
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 3:46 pm
That would be a really good asset for Wilmslow and I am sure it would get used, otherwise its a trip to Parrs Wood or the Trafford Centre. Would be nice to some community cinemas again instead of just the massive multiplexes, suppose it depends on whether the business case works. Hopefully it wont become another coffee shop as at the last count there were 102 or something...
Hannelore Hartig
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 3:53 pm
Sounds great. Would be good if Cineworld could run it, they have all the newest movies,
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 4:05 pm
Hear hear. A couple of mini cinemas, + a NICE eatery. No "£10quid!" popcorn bags needed.
Nick Jones
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 4:22 pm
Great Idea! Macc and Sale are looking at the same .. technology has moved on since the old Rex... Lets hope its viable, fantastic draw to the town, its bars and eateries !
Julie Green
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 4:35 pm
Would be great to see the return of the Rex. Cinemac's days are probably numbered even though it has affordable tickets good priced snacks latest films as plans for the regeneration of Macclesfield includes a multi screen cinema. Sorry for the staff of the furniture shop.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 4:50 pm
Perhaps ,as so many positive vibes on the return of the Rex. The residents can set up a co-op .or do a crowd funding to buy the lease.or to rent it for a local cinema,and eatery ,like Nandos.Baz
Julian Barlow
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 5:05 pm
The return of a cinema to our town would be fantastic. It would give a much needed boost to local businesses and give the public something that they genuinely want. With CEC’s uncanny ability to read the public mood, I’m sure they’ll be granting permission for change of use to a wasp farm.
Julie Dawn Potts
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 5:21 pm
Bring back The Rex cinema like the Curzon in Knutsford It will make Wilmslow a destination bringing people into the centre of town where many will stay longer which in turn will help local businesses and bring vitality to the town!
Beatrice Turler
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 5:24 pm
Yes pleeeease! For years we have answered every survey and questionnaire on what we would like to see in Wilmslow with "a cinema". It would be such an asset to the town. I have fond memories of going to the Rex every week, and we would so so again if the cinema was reinstated. We would probably go for a meal before. So two local businesses would benefit.
Maria Quin
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 5:39 pm
I do feel great sympathy for the staff who will lose their jobs and really hope they find nice new ones.
It’s my belief that the best way forward with this iconic building is to convert it back to a combined cinema/theatre which would satisfy most folks entertainment needs and bring a great deal of pleasure as well as additional business for many of our retailers.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take this opportunity to provide some much needed local theatre and movies?
David Pearce
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 5:49 pm
After 22 years since it's closure, what a wonderful prospect, sometime soon, to turn the sad misfortune of Multiyork into a big plus for Wilmslow. The prospect of transforming the surviving Rex building facade and it's associated structure back to a being cinema will certainly inspire much support locally. Such a revived entertainment attraction would do much to help energize and be a draw for the town's social scene in a healthy way.
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 7:59 pm
I’d use it for sure if it reopened as a cinema.
Peter Evans
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 8:40 pm
I guess the reality is a cinema company need to think there is a commercial business case for opening a cinema in town. The council may support it but they aren't able to find it (thank goodness).
So, it is great to see such unanimous support in responses so far - let's hope this encourages someone appropriate to take a series look at this... fingers crossed
Victoria Hewitt
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 9:03 pm
We travel to Knutsford or Macc for the cinema it would be wonderful if The Rex would open as a cinema in Wilmslow.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 9:11 pm
The Rex buildings are still owned by the family of the chap who built them.
Khumi Burton
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 9:18 pm
I came to Wilmslow in March 1976 and we used to go there for plays & Cinema shows with a bar upstairs.

Those days ladies wear hats and so you always wish that the person in front has no hat!!

I am positive that a Cinema will be very welcome in Wilmslow. It does not have to be multiplex but like the Curzon in Knutsford.
I am sure the company who owns the Curzon will be very interested if approached.

This is where instead of just suggesting and coming up with ideas.. the Community of Wilmslow must act more positively.

So come on Wilmslow and let's all work towards have a Cinema in Town.

We have Alderley Edge, Styal & Handforth at our doorstep.
Martin Duguid
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 10:56 pm
Very sorry to see Multi York (and the Feather & Black subsiduary) going to the wall - we were long-standing customers. However, the opportunity to re-open the Rex is too good to miss. Wilmslow lacks a large performance space - unless you count the Evans Theatre's occasional use of the Leisure Centre. It would be a double plus - we get our cinema back AND the sports hall in the Leisure Centre is available 365 days a year! Is there a potential benefactor out there looking to add value to the town and creating a lasting legacy?
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 11:05 pm
Two weeks ago, I met with our new MP Esther McVey and suggested setting up a Community Interest Company to deliver projects to improve Wilmslow’s appeal.

So, can I suggest all of the people who think "It would be a great idea", get together and form a company.

In my honest opinion, it would be the only way that they'd realise that as a commercial venture, it would not stand up in today’s competitive entertainment industry.

A very nice idea but times have changed.

If you do go ahead with this idea, and it's a roaring success, then I am quite prepared to come and eat a raw onion at the tenth anniversary celebrations. Pease do keep me to my word. I still expect to be a resident of this lovely town in ten years.

As the neighbourhood plan consultation process has shown, There is a desire for a cinema, and arts centre in Wilmslow. We already have a permanent theatre at the Green Room on Chapel Lane. But is a cinema and arts centre commercially viable?
Matthew Butler
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 12:22 am
This would be a fantastic asset to Wilmslow. Ideally as a community based venture rather than run by an 'outside' company though.

Obviously nothing can happen until the situation with Multiyork has been clarified however this is an opportunity not to be missed.

It would be fantastic if the town could organise a group of people to work towards making this a reality.
Ann Adamson
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 7:11 am
Everyone I have spoken to about the unfortunate closure of Multiyork have said how much they would love to have a cinema back in Wilmslow. The cinemas in Macclesfield and Knutsford seem to be very successful, so come on councillors please listen to the voice of the people and help them to make this happen.
Christine McClory
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 10:01 am
Hope all goes well for the staff who may potentially lose their jobs.
If it happens then we need to grasp the silver lining and get our cinema and arts space reestablished.
Look further afield for wonderful potential business. The Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle appears to have found the way to preserve a great building and a very interesting approach to a fantastic range of cinematic experiences.
It would be fantastic to have this facility in our village.
Frazer Fearnhead
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 10:28 am
If the people of Wilmslow wish to raise money to restore their cinema, as a cinephile myself, I would be very happy to provide my expertise and knowledge as well as the use of our crowdfunding platform (http://www.thehousecrowd.com) to facilitate the fundraise - all free of charge. Please get in touch if you would like our help.
Sue Lewis
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 12:28 pm
Here is yet one more enthusiastic local who would love to see some soul put back into the centre of Wilmslow by giving us a cinema of our own. One of the knock on benefits would be the extra business it would bring for our local eateries too.
James MacDonald
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 12:48 pm
A return of the cinema in an existing building would be most welcome, especially as the council has done its best at granting permission to build houses that we don’t need on all the remaining green belt.
Alan Moon
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 3:26 pm
It would not be possible to restore the Rex to its 1985 condition unless the Revolution Bar vacated the building. Most of the stalls area and stage were there.

The original 1936 cinema had about 900 seats in the stalls and circle. In 1985 a screen was installed in the circle which had about 330 seats. The seats and screen may still be there.

The Evans Theatre was created in the leisure centre in the mid eighties using money bequeathed by a Mr and Mrs Evans. The original idea was to use it for a purpose built theatre.
Angela McPake
Thursday 30th November 2017 at 6:33 pm
Once the theatre closed, the circle became the permanent cinema for a number of years.
As I understand it, that is still there as is the old projection suite and the bar area.

For many reasons (not least the point that the old stage is part of revs!) resurrecting the theatre is probably a none starter but a cinema with performance/exhibition space feels like it might be possible.
Estelle Lewis
Tuesday 5th December 2017 at 5:04 pm
Call me cynical but I'd like to bet we get a McDonald's there! Or maybe some other eaterie. I too would welcome a cinema/theatre but I'm not holding my breath
Fiona Doorbar
Wednesday 6th December 2017 at 6:53 am
We used to have a mc'ds but it closed......and a la Tasca , strada .....they all had a go and all failed. I put my money on a Nando's tbh....that's what the kids travel miles to get too! That unit is probably too large for them tho. However , I too think reverting back to a cinema is a good idea.
Paul Hampton
Wednesday 6th December 2017 at 5:43 pm
My initial thoughts are that the location and heritage of the Rex would provide a good fit for Curzon’s business model.

Let’s hope this gains momentum and who knows, you could sinking into a comfy Pullman chair sometime in the next couple of years...
Marc Staples
Friday 8th December 2017 at 6:53 pm
I would love to see the building turned into a cinema once again, but knowing CEC council they will turn it down in favour of another housing development with the now mandatory affordable housing option (I am joking by the way). Maybe we could have another coffee shop or a overpriced eatery. They do say there is no such thing as a free lunch ! well there will be if you are a local councillor.

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