The much-loved auditorium in the Croydon Clocktower is to be re-opened once again as the David Lean Cinema.
The original David Lean cinema in the clocktower was closed in 2011 due to budget cuts. It was first re-opened last year but merely as an auditorium which groups including the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign could hire out for events.
Croydon Council’s cabinet member for culture described the closure four years ago as a “vindictive measure” by the previous administration. It had been the borough’s sole independent cinema.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, added: “We are quite happy to back the campaign and support them. The David Lean Cinema is an important venue in its own right.”
Since the closure a passionate team of cine-files has campaigned to see the space reopened as a fully functioning cinema.
Adrian Winchester, who leads the campaign, said: “I’d like to think that this development displays respect for what the campaign has achieved, as the council wouldn’t have taken this step if they didn’t consider us a reliable organisation offering an attractive programme worthy of the cinema’s name.”
The cinema was built in the 1990s in honour of the famous Croydon-born director Sir David Lean, best known for big screen epics such as Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. The small 68-seat theatre stands as an alternative to multiplexes, offering Croydon film lovers a mixed programme of classic, art-house and popular cinema.
After being closed in 2011, the auditorium reopened for hire to community groups in 2014. Since then the campaign has hired out the venue for screenings, presenting Croydon locals with nine films a month.
Winchester said that the closure of the Fairfield Hall arts centre for a two-year refurbishment project leaves “every incentive to make the Clocktower an inviting destination” for arts and culture in the borough.
Next week the David Lean Cinema Campaign will host its first silent film evening with Lucky Dog Picturehouse, offering patrons an authentic experience complete with live accompaniment. A highlight of the programme will be the 1909 film A Glass of Goat’s Milk, a rare 35mm made by the local Croydon business Clarendon Films. The company was run with help from workers at West Croydon Station, who frequently featured as extras in their films.
Lucky Dog Director Emily O’Hara said: “A Glass of Goat’s Milk was filmed in Croydon by Croydonians, and as a local myself I am extremely proud and excited to be able show such films just as they would have been seen in the Edwardian era; with live musical accompaniment.”
Tickets to the night are £7.50 (£6 concessions) and can be booked online.