52-54 High Street,
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The Lyric Cinema opened on 28 October 1939 with Gracie Fields in “We’re Going to be Rich”. It was designed as a dual-purpose cinema and theatre and accordingly had a fair sized stage (30 feet deep) with a full fly tower and six dressing rooms. It had 752 seats split between stalls and circle, however the circle barely overhung the stalls, being mainly above the large ground floor foyer. It was designed as an elongated ‘U’ shape with the rounded end forming the very distinctive streamlined facade. The Lyric Cinema was operated by the Star Cinemas chain from 1943.
In 1969 the building was split with the circle becoming a smaller cinema and the stalls and stage area a bingo club. However it became progressively more run down and closed for a few months in August 1993. It was re-opened and struggled on for another few years before finally closing on June 1995 with Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive”. The bingo operation carried on for only a little longer.
Within a short time the New Life Baptist Church had bought it and conversion to a place of worship was undertaken. A new balcony has been constructed further forward than the original and a false ceiling fixed above the stage (all machinery has been stripped from the flytower). The foyer has been restored but otherwise the only visible remains of the Lyric Cinema are the proscenium arch, stage area and ceiling above the former front stalls.
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