HEXHAM’S independent cinema is this month celebrating its 85th birthday.

The Forum Cinema opened its doors on Monday, August 23, 1937 on the same site as Hexham’s former cinema, The Gem Cinema, under the management of Tom Scott of the Hexham Entertainment Company.

The first film shown was Keep Your Seats Please starring George Fawnby, and tickets cost just one shilling - equivalent to five pence today.

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Hexham Community Partnership, the current owners of the single-screen cinema, took over in 2007, with a portion of the cinema’s profits going towards supporting Hexham, its residents and other businesses that operate in the town.

To mark the milestone birthday, the cinema will run a series of events throughout August.

Active Northumberland’s Wentworth Leisure Centre has been a mainstay in Hexham since the mid 1980s; with the centre receiving an almost £700,000 funding boost in 2019 for refurbishment works.

The funding came as part of an ambitious £65m county-wide investment programme to upgrade and transform sport and leisure facilities, and enhance customer experience.

Opening in 1940 originally as a facility to treat wounded soldiers during the Second World War, Hexham General Hospital joined the NHS eight years later.

A then state-of-the-art, new hospital was later opened in 2004 at the cost of £54m by then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Hexham Courant’s near neighbour, The Queen’s Hall Arts Centre building dates back to 674AD. It opened as an arts centre in 1983.

The jewel in Hexham’s crown, in 673-674, Queen Etheldreda granted Bishop Wilfrid the lands of Hexhamshire for a new Benedictine monastery, making Hexham Abbey one of the earliest seats of Christianity in England.

The Abbey is currently undergoing an East End Masonry Conservation and Repair project.

The restoration project involves masonry and glazing repairs and the provision of pigeon deterrent measures. Broken flags at the north east end of the abbey, which suffered damage during recent roof works, are also being repaired.

Elswhere, The Old Gaol was one of the first purpose built jails in England, built between 1330-3, while the Moot Hall, was used as a courthouse until 1838.