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The Savoy Cinema opened as a dual purpose cinema and theatre on 21st May 1938 with Spencer Tracey in “The Big City” plus a variety show on stage. It was erected on the same site as the Coliseum Theatre which opened in 1910 but housed in a building dating from 1903. In 1937 it burned to the ground.
The Savoy Cinema was a handsome replacement with 1,150 seats in the stalls and circle. There was a full stage with a flytower, and live performances were often presented, sometimes with a resident theatre company, for example the Northampton Repertory Company presented regular seasons here between 1949 and 1951. The stage was 43 feet wide, 23 feet deep and had a 60 feet high flytower. Backstage there were seven dressing rooms and a band room.
The facade was plain, but solid, and was outlined in neon. The interior was decorated with Grecian murals, had concealled lighting and elaborated ventilation grills down the sides and above the rectangular proscenium. It was a wide and reletively shallow house, which must have given it excellent sightlines. It was taken over by the Clifton Cinemas circuit on 25th Auguat 1944.
In 1968 the circle was split off and extended forward as a smaller cinema seating 485, called the Studio, whilst bingo took over the stalls and stage area. In 1973 this screen was split into two, seating 160 and 140 and known as Studio 1 & 2. After a short closure in 1986 they were re-opened as an independent and were renamed Ohio Cinema, which finally closed in 1997 after an Odeon Multiplex arrived in town.
Vandalised and empty, the former Savoy Cinema was slated for demolition and replacement with flats. The derelict cinema was badly damaged in an arson attack which took place in the early morning of 16th September 2011.
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