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The historic and beautiful town of Richmond, North Yorkshire, acquired a suitably plush cinema called the Zetland Cinema which opened 27th October 1937 with Paul Robeson in “Song of Freedom”.
The facade is classically designed with Georgian style windows at 1st and 2nd floor level, a fluted pediment running around the top and a handsome crest in the raised central portion. A canopy once existed but this and the ground floor has been extensively altered. The upper levels have been very recently, and attractively, restored.
Inside there is a medium sized Art Deco style foyer, with all major details intact. From here doors lead to the lower part of the stadium style auditorium whilst stairs at the side lead up to the rear raised part of the seating.
There is a deep recess in the ceiling containing the vertical ventilation ducts and, originally, concealed lighting. Ornamental metal grilles remain above exit doors on either side of the stage, which has rectangular opening 40 feet wide in front of a 21 feet deep stage. There were two dressing rooms. From December 1956 it was operated by the Star Cinemas chain and the cinema closed on 16th April 1983.
It was sold to a religious group and is now home to the Richmond Pentecostal Church and is known as the Zetland Christian Centre. A forestage has been built out for the church to allow for musicians. The rear half of the raised seating has been converted into meeting rooms and offices so the original 837 capacity has now been cut to around 450 however this has been inserted in such a way as to not even touch the plasterwork on the ceiling.
Somewhat surprisingly the Zetland Cinema had in 2002/3 resumed its role as chief entertainment venue in the town as the famous Georgian Theatre and Museum was undergoing a major restoration and expansion and all of its productions were transferred into the Zetland Cinema whilst the work was carried out.
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