St Albans Cinema Fund Reaches Target - The full story

THE high-profile �1 million campaign to buy the old Odeon in St Albans and retain it as a cinema has hit its target. In fact, slightly more than �1 million pounds has rolled in to make the long-held big screen dream for St Albans now look a certainty. The

THE high-profile �1 million campaign to buy the old Odeon in St Albans and retain it as a cinema has hit its target.

In fact, slightly more than �1 million pounds has rolled in to make the long-held big screen dream for St Albans now look a certainty.

The fund for the new cinema to be created in the art deco former Odeon in London Road now stands at �1,022,437.

Only seven weeks ago cinema entrepreneur James Hannaway confessed that his big hitters - the venture capitalists and major money men he had lined up to fund the project - had proved unsatisfactory lenders.


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That meant he had to forfeit a �10,000 deposit when he overran the January 22 deadline for exchange of contracts.

But it all changed when he appealed to the generosity of the cinema fans of St Albans who responded to his plea. They were also galvanised into action by members of St Albans Civic Society (SACS) and other activists who had always supported the cinema cause.

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People like SACS member Marion Hammant were instrumental in helping Mr Hannaway, who successfully restored the dilapidated Rex cinema in Berkhamsted, raise the purchase price.

She said: "It's a tremendous day. We will have a cinema for everyone. James listens to his audience and I am sure will provide something for everyone in this wonderful building now saved for posterity."

The 1930s building was due for demolition after its present owners Wattsdown Development Limited won planning permission to use the site to build 14 luxury flats with underground parking.

But commenting on the target being reached yesterday Mike Moult, who owns Wattsdown, said: "I am very happy to hear the news. I hope James remembers to tell his solicitor."

Mr Hannaway congratulated the people of St Albans who made it happen and promised to keep them posted on the exact dates of the exchange of contract and completion.

More than �173,000 came from advance memberships, �99,000 from sponsored seats, almost �29,000 from donations, more than �500,000 from investors and �213,000 in loans.

But Mr Hannaway will not be able to sit back on his laurels - the next hurdle will be the raising of �2.5 million needed to refurbish the building which is in a poor state of repair after standing empty for so many years.

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