The man who brought Berkhamsted’s The Rex back to life after 16 years of emptiness is chasing the final £300,000 he needs to resuscitate another closed cinema.
The Odyssey in St Albans was due to be open by spring 2014. But two seasons later and James Hannaway is still searching for the final £300,000 he needs to finish developing the attraction.
The Rex originally opened in 1938, seven years after the St Albans site, then known as Capitol Cinema, was redeveloped to its current configuration. The London Road site has been home to a cinema since 1908, but the original building burned down in a fire in 1927.
It was bought by the Odeon chain in 1945, which ran the complex until it closed in 1995 at around the same time as Hemel Hempstead’s town centre Odeon. Both are thought to have been victims of the multiplex development at Jarman Park.
At the time there seemed to be little future for single screen cinemas.
The Rex had been converted from a single to a two-screen venue with bingo hall in the mid 1970s before finally calling it a day in 1988.
But Mr Hannaway was determined that the iconic building should be restored – it was opened again in 2004 as a single-screen art deco cinema. He is equally passionate about the St Albans project.
Writing in this month’s edition of The Rex Magazine, he said: “We’ve caught up with the half million we’ve been chasing from the outset.
“We now only need £300,000 to finish the whole lot, including securing the outbuilding to the left of the entrance – which eventually in a year or so will be your cafe/restaurant. So now is the time to sponsor a seat for £1,000 or £1,500. Think on it, but don’t take too long.”