Your chance to explore St Albans cinema building

CINEMA enthusiasts will get the chance to explore the former Odeon and walk in the footsteps of its original founder next month.

Owner James Hannaway will be flinging open the doors to the landmark art deco building at 12pm on Sunday, September 12, on the day it will be given its new name.

As previously reported by the Herts Advertiser, Mr Hannaway launched a competition last month calling on the public to name the cinema, which he saved from the clutches of developers after raising funds of �1 million in eight weeks to buy it.

On the forthcoming second viewing, which coincides with English Heritage Open Days, the public will be able the take a look inside the dilapidated building and see the marathon task ahead to restore it to its former glory.

They will also be able to quiz Mr Hannaway about the renovation project and his vision for the cinema in the main auditorium before he announces its sixth new name in its 102-year history at around 1pm.

Then, at around 2.30pm, there will be a free walk tracing the life and achievements of Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, the original creator of the St Albans Alpha Picture Palace. The ‘Desperately Seeking Arthur Melbourne-Cooper’ walk begins at St Albans City Station (Ridgmont Road exit) and will be led by the Civic Society.

The winner of the naming competition will be awarded membership of the first year’s advanced booking list or another prize if he or she is already signed up, as well as having their name written in the foyer or bar area.

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There will also be tickets for The Rex in Berkhamsted, which Mr Hannaway also restored, for the three most imaginative, funniest and wittiest suggestions.

All entries need to be submitted by 6pm on September 6 by visiting or posting them to Name The Alpha, c/o The Rex Cinema, High St. (Three Close Lane) Berkhamsted HP4 2FG. It’s hoped that the new cinema will be open by the end of 2012.