New Phoenix Cinema
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In Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands, there has only ever been one cinema operating at any one time. The Electric Theatre was succeeded by the Albert Kinema. When fire destroyed the Albert Kinema in 1947, film shows were transferred to a temporary Albert Kinema in a former Temperance Hall. In June 1955 they moved to the purpose-built 658-seat Phoenix Cinema on Junction Road. The Phoenix Cinema, which had been acquired by the Orkney Islands Council in 1985, eventually closed in November 1998.
The following year, film shows re-started in the new Pickaquoy Centre, a multi-use leisure centre that was opened by the Princess Royal on Friday 16th April 1999. The centre has a 1,600-seat arena, meeting rooms, health spa, gymnasium and many other indoor/outdoor sports facilities, as well as a cafe and bar – and includes the appropriately named New Phoenix Cinema.
Unlike many cinema auditoriums within leisure centres, the New Phoenix Cinema is used solely for film shows. There is a spacious foyer. The auditorium seating is steeply raked, giving excellent sight-lines, and there are plush red house tabs (screen curtains).
In nice touches to the past, the original Phoenix Cinema is remembered through one of its projectors, on display in the foyer, and a clock, now 50 years old, on the wall at the right-hand side of the screen. At the time of its opening, the New Phoenix Cinema was the United Kingdom’s most northerly cinema, but this has been superseded by the opening of the Mareel Cinema in Lerwick.
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