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Ultimate Picture palace gets a 'much-needed' makeover
Buy this photo » Becky Hallsmith inside the Ultimate Picture Palace
THE city’s oldest and last independent cinema is having a “much-needed” refurbishment.
The Ultimate Picture Palace in Jeune Street, Oxford, is closed for four weeks while the £20,000 revamp takes place.
New lighting is being installed, the walls redecorated and ongoing problems with damp are being fixed.
Owner Becky Hallsmith, from East Oxford, said: “We are carrying out some much needed ‘care and attention’ work to the interior and will be sprucing it up at the same time.
“Money has not been spent on the cinema for a long time and it will make it a much nicer place to sit and watch a film.”
Ms Hallsmith is spending £20,000 on the refurbishment and is hiring professionals to carry out tasks such as plastering.
Friends and paid staff at the independent cinema are also lending a hand.
Planning permission for the refurbishment of the cinema, which is a grade II listed building, was granted by Oxford City Council in May last year.
Ms Hallsmith added: “It’s going fine so far – at the moment I’m dealing with the mould and we’re prepping for painting.
“The inside is going to look much more theatrical, with new paint and wallpaper designs, including one of the character Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.”
She added: “It will enhance the surroundings and improve the ambience.”
The cinema currently has terracotta walls and Ms Hallsmith said these will be painted midnight blue to give the inside a more “dramatic” look.
Philip Hind, a filmmaker who made a documentary about the cinema in its centenary year in 2011, said it is an important “community resource”.
The 42-year old from Kennington said: “Becky has done a fantastic job on the cinema to date.
“It’s essential to maintain it because it is one of the very few independent cinemas around.
“I used to go there as a student at Oxford Brookes. It was known for being cold and damp, and for showing barmy films.” The cinema reopens on Friday, September 13, when musician Roger Eno will perform his own soundtrack composition to silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).
- A series of film festivals is being held at the cinema this autumn, including documentary festival OxDox from October 11 to November 7 and the Adventure Film Festival from October 14-28.
Films keep on rolling
THE cinema was founded as The Oxford Picture Palace by Frank Stuart, landlord of the then Elm Tree Tavern next door, in 1911.
After many years as a furniture warehouse it became derelict, right, before Radio Oxford presenter Bill Heine and Pablo Butcher reopened it as the Penultimate Picture Palace in 1976.
It closed in 1994, but brothers Saied and Zaid Marham reopened it in 1997 as the Ultimate Picture Palace.
Philippa Farrow and Jane Derricott bought the cinema in 2009 and sold it to current owner Becky Hallsmith in April 2011.
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