Chorley Theatre

Date: October 2023Category: Getting Started

This was written by community cinema organiser Estelle Bryers from Chorley Theatre.

Hello from Chorley Theatre! Our purpose built cinema building opened on September 3rd 1920 and changed from a commercial cinema to a volunteer owned and run cinema in 1961, making us (we think) the oldest purpose built, continuously screening cinema in the world.

We now have technology beyond the wildest imaginations of our Edwardian predecessors but the basics are exactly the same: humans gathered together, looking at projection, reacting as a crowd. Our last commercial cinema, The Plaza, close in 1986 and I was then the youngest person at the meeting (in a pub, of course) when we formed Chorley Film Society, joined the British Federation of Film Societies as it was then known, and started screening in the local adult college lecture theatres on a Sunday.

Cinema For All and ourselves have been through many changes over the years, but as the songs says, I’m still here. We have got through all sorts of things; closed twice during the pandemic (we boldly opened for 3 weeks and screened JudyRocksBack to the Future and Bill & Ted with support from Cinema For All), we did a big history project and produced a map walk around entertainment venues in Chorley town centre. Chorley Council and the BFI helped us to continue. We had an indoor street party for the Jubilee and a whole day for the Queen’s funeral, with feeds on all of our three screens, providing silence for contemplation or commentary and company as needed.

We developed the building next door, turning it into The Studio and we now have a screen in there too! It has concrete ramps & has one big floor so wheelchairs & buggies can be used to easily access the venue.

We are our audience. We are our community. This is what we do. This is who we are.