Cinemas of Lynton
Lynton's first and original cinema opened in 1916 and was located upstairs at the former Foresters' Hall in Queen Street. This was located where the outdoor seating area and parking spaces are today in Queen Street outside The Crown. The hall and cinema was reached up a flight of twelve steps, and sat on the first floor above Patrick's Fish & Chip shop. It was not usual during shows for the smell of cooking Fish & Chips to permeate up into the cinema. The 1916 cinema was known as the Picturedrome cinema and was not suitable for 'talkies'. As a result, the cinema closed in 1930. The Foresters' Hall itself was pulled down in the mid-1960s, being the last of the 'old' buildings in Lynton to get demolished.
Subsequently, a new cinema opened as part of a chain of 'BB' cinemas across the West Country, and was housed in the old chapel on Sinai Hill. The BB cinema lasted until 1961, when the owner of the chain passed away. At that time, the cinema was very nearly purchased for use as a repertory theatre, however this did not end up going ahead and the cinema remained derelict (amazingly) right up until 2008. The building has now been converted into apartments and a holiday cottage.
The BB cinema was replaced by a cinema operated in the main Town Hall, this utilised the main hall of the town hall, projecting onto a retractable screen over the stage. At its height in the 80s and early 90s, the town hall kept cinema alive in Lynton for many years and kept the community and visitors entertained.
The cinema operating in Lynton today is the first purpose built cinema since the BB cinema and was opened in 2001 with a 68 seat capacity. The cinema is at the back of another chapel, this time in Lee Road alongside the Town Hall. If you haven't been, it is somewhere you must try - unlike the massive modern empty multiplexes now dominating most the country, the cinema in Lynton is one of the few places where you can really go and properly 'experience' a cinema. It is intimate, cosy, friendly, and yet also screens new and current films with full Dolby Digital surround sound and excellent picture quality. The presence of our cinema also ensures Lynton holds its place as the smallest town in the country to have a full time cinema.
In October 2012, the cinema screened its last ever film using old 35mm film. In the past, new films would arrive at the cinema each week and would have to be spliced together to make up the full feature film. Typically a film would be made of around six separate reels, although some were as many as eight. Each reel would be approximately 2000ft long, and would be joined together to form a single giant reel. To this was then added adverts to the beginning and other film trailers.
The old projection equipment was finally removed from the cinema, and has now gone to the Regal Theatre in Minehead. Lynton's cinema is now fitted with a modern digital projector, computer and servers, with films downloaded weekly over the Internet. Whilst the end of reels of film bring us to an end of an era, the new projector gives an absolutely incredible image, far superior to what we previously had, and the sound has also been further upgraded to enhance the cinema experience yet more!