Curtain up on Forum Cinema's 80th birthday celebrations
A MODERN Theatre De Luxe was how Hexham’s brand new Forum Theatre was described in a handbill for its auspicious opening night on August 23,1937.
A special preview article in the Courant about the town’s innovative ‘super cinema’ heralded it as “the last word in modernity and luxury.”
It continued: “No expense has been spared in installing the latest equipment and the comfort of patrons has been a detail ever before the eyes of the Hexham Entertainment Company so that the latest talkie pictures may be enjoyed by their patrons in armchair comfort.”
It would surely have delighted the company’s founder, Tom Scott, that his charming picture house is still so well-loved and supported by the Tynedale community and that, in this age of box sets and video streaming, people will still flock in their hundreds for a night out at the movies.
The affection for Hexham’s art deco film theatre is demonstrated in some of the memories people have been sharing with the Forum’s general manager, Tamsin Beevor, and usher and projectionist Callum Boyd in an anniversary questionnaire.
One of those contributors was Tom Scott’s grand-daughter Julia Maudsley, who was in the privileged position of being able to see films for free in her youth, as her uncle was Tom’s son – also Tom – who continued to run the cinema after his father’s death.
Julia, 68, said: “Grandpa Tom and his wife had four daughters and a son and my mum was the second daughter, Joan Scott. I used to go to pantos and Hexham Stage Society productions and in the 1950s and 60s it would be St Trinian’s and the Carry On films.”
Today, she pays her own way as a Friend of the Forum and was looking forward to seeing Dunkirk last week.
She still loves the silver screen her grandfather gave to the town and believes he’d be very proud that it’s the only full-time cinema now in community ownership in Northumberland.
“It’s brilliant the way it’s run at the moment because you get up to date films more or less as soon as they’re released, and live theatre via satellite, where you feel like you’re actually in the theatre, but at a much reduced cost, which is great,” said Julia.
“Although Tom senior died not long after I was born, I have heard through family that he was into promoting new ideas and I think he would have been really pleased with the way it’s being used now.”
l FANS of Hollywood fashion will enjoy a charity vintage fashion and film show being held at the cinema as part of its 80th celebrations.
‘Oscar Night at the Forum’ will take a look back at eight decades of glamorous ‘Oscar’ gowns from the 1920s to the Millennium.
Staged by Hexham’s vintage fashion queen Gaby Sutton, proceeds will go to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.
Tickets for the event on Friday, September 8, are available from the Forum box office.