Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 11:09 UK

Last picture show for old cinema

Theatre Royal, Barry
The cinema opened as the Theatre Royal in Barry in 1907

A 101-year-old cinema is staging its last show after campaigners' hopes were dashed that it could be saved.

The Theatre Royal in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, will show the Peter Sellers 1957 comedy The Smallest Show on Earth, about a struggling cinema, on Thursday.

Despite a 10,000 name petition, falling audience figures forced closure.

Cinemagoers are being asked to dress glamorously for the final night, where guests will include a projectionist who worked there during World War II.

Keith Curtis, 83, who worked there in 1944, remembers a fire, caused in part by the old flammable nitrate film, which damaged the projection room.

The first film he showed at the Theatre Royal was North Star, released in 1943, with Anne Baxter.

Theatre protest
It's unbelievable that Wales's largest town is to be without any cinema at all
Jasper Blakeley, campaigner

"I remember the musicals were very popular and the comedies.

"The cinema couldn't go wrong in those days and it was always full. The cinema was very important in those days too because they showed the news reels."

"I wasn't there very long and then I was called up on 7 July 1944."

Mr Curtis, who has his own private cinema in his garage at his home in Poole, Dorset, also worked at the Odeon cinema in St Austell, Cornwall.

Recently he went to the last cinema screening there too.

'Very sad day'

He said: "They showed The Smallest Show on Earth then too - so I call it 'the closing down film'.

"It is very sad day. I knew the Theatre Royal was closing so I wanted to come up," he added.

Campaigners said they would continue their fight to run an independent cinema in the town.

Jasper Blakeley, one of the campaigners, said: "It's unbelievable that Wales' largest town is to be without any cinema at all.

"It's massively disappointing, especially to the people of Barry who have shown such unswerving support for our campaign.

"However this is not the end, there are people waiting in the wings, people with money and we hope to keep fighting and maybe come to an agreement with the landowner and still save this important public amenity."

The Theatre Royal, which has been run by Brian Bull, survived a fire, and the wartime blitz and has been rebuilt.

Mr Bull, who also ran the now-closed Monico in Rhiwbina, Cardiff, has been recognised for his work in Welsh film culture when he received the Anthony Hopkins Award in 2005.

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