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The Kinema in the Woods, Woodhall Spa

Reference Name MLI91955

The Kinema in the Woods, Woodhall Spa

The Kinema in the Woods, is a cinema, converted in 1922 from a late 19th century pavilion, with later 20th century extensions.


The building now used as a cinema was originally built as a barn. In 1888 it was converted or rebuilt to become a concert and dance pavilion and in Edwardian times it was used as a tennis and cricket pavilion for Petwood House. In 1922 it was converted to a rear-projection cinema. It is a single storey timber, render and brick building sitting in woodland. It is considered to be of townscape value by the Conservation Area Appraisal. {1}

The building is not present at all on the 1889 OS County Series map and so any suggestion that the building was originally a barn converted or rebuilt to become a pavilion is mistaken. {2}

In 1844-45 the Victoria Hotel and bath house were built in Woodhall Spa, just south of the site of the Kinema, on land that became known as the Spa Pleasure Grounds. An article in the Horncastle News on 14 July 1888 refers to a pavilion in the grounds used for dancing and other amusements but it is not clear if this is the building that was later converted into a cinema. However, a reference from 1890 clearly identifies the building which was described as being used for fetes, bazaars, garden parties and concerts. The Ordnance Survey map of 1905 shows a long, rectangular building with a verandah on the south and west sides. This is the original, single-storey, late 19th century pavilion which is oriented north to south and forms the main auditorium of the cinema. The building resembles a chalet with its square panelled timber framing and shallow pitched gable roofs which have decorative timber bargeboards matching those on the original pavilion. The front (south) elevation presents a series of gable ends, the central one being that of the original pavilion, which is flanked by the later extensions in the same style. The gabled vestibule has a centrally placed horizontal, multi-paned window with timber glazing bars. The west elevation of the original pavilion building has ornamental panelling, and this has been reproduced on the extension containing the second auditorium. The east elevation of the pavilion is obscured by the extension built alongside which is plain red brick, as is the rear extension. The Victoria Hotel burnt down in 1920 and in 1922 the pavilion was purchased by Lady Weigall, who had built the nearby Petwood in 1905. In the same year it opened as the Pavilion Cinema. The roof trusses were too low to enable a projection room to show films from the rear of the audience, so a corrugated iron hut was added to the back of the stage, and projectors threw the image for about 30 feet onto the back of a linen screen. The Kinema is believed to be the only full-time cinema in the country still using rear projection. In about the mid 1920s a small vestibule was built on the south elevation, and a few years later the roof was extended either side of this vestibule to provide shelter. In 1930 its name was changed to Kinema in the Woods. The building has been altered and considerably extended over the years, almost doubling its footprint. In 1974 the floor of the auditorium was raised and the number of seats was reduced from 365 to around 320. In 1978 two electronically controlled Kalee projectors were installed, replacing the original one from 1928. In 1989 an office and lavatories were built on the east side and in 1994 an extended foyer, lavatories, ante-rooms and Kinema Too (a second 92-seat auditorium) were built on the west side, all in the same half-timbered style with matching gables. A large red brick extension has also been built on the rear elevation. The roofing material has been replaced with corrugated sheeting, and the brick plinth was probably added at a later date as it is not shown in historic photographs. In 1987 a red and gold lacquered Compton Kinestra organ console was installed in the Kinema, which had originally been used in the Cambridge Circus Cinematograph Theatre in 1927-28. It was made by John Compton, the only one to survive out of the three he made, and decorated in the 18th century oriental style by a Japanese artist from the London School of Art. Most of the Kinema is decorated with murals and trompe l'oeil, some painted in the 1940s by the Polish refugee artist Nikolai Kukso who later added decoration to Lincoln Cathedral. The walls of the second auditorium depict scenes of rural Lincolnshire in trompe l’oeil style painted in the mid 1990s by Canadian artist Murray Hubick. According to the film director Bryan Forbes, who frequented the Kinema in his youth and visited it in 1999, it is the oldest converted cinema still in use. The building is of local significance but did not satisfy the criteria for statutory designation in 2012. {3}{4}

1 Report: QuBE Planning Ltd.. 2008. Woodhall Spa Conservation Area Appraisal. Section 6.2
2 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1884-1888. 6 Inch Ordnance Survey County Series Map - First Edition.
3 Unpublished Document: English Heritage / Historic England. 2011->. Advice Report from a Heritage Asset Assessment. Case no.466819
4 Unpublished Document: Historic England. 2012->. Designation Decision Records (De-Designated and Non-Designated Entries). 1410348

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Last updated: 06-December-2018 13:41:17

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