Old cinema reopens as launderette-cum-entertainment venue

The Old Cinema Launderette, Marshall Terrace, Giesgate Moor, Durham.
The Old Cinema Launderette, Marshall Terrace, Giesgate Moor, Durham.
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THE final credits have long since rolled at an old picture house, but a piece of its history has re-emerged with a new lease of life.

The Old Cinema Launderette – a business offering entertainment and refreshments alongside traditional laundry services – has been launched in the former film venue in Durham City,

16 year old Amber Bryan-Smith models a jacket made by her mum Jill from the curtains which once hung in the Rex Cinema which is now the Launderette on Marshall Terrace in Gilesgate, Durham.

16 year old Amber Bryan-Smith models a jacket made by her mum Jill from the curtains which once hung in the Rex Cinema which is now the Launderette on Marshall Terrace in Gilesgate, Durham.

The building, in Marshall Terrace, Gilesgate Moor, began life as the Crescent in 1928 and became the Rex in 1941.

The final film, Eagle Squadron, was screened in January 1958 and the site housed a tool hire and tiling businesses.

Now the curtains which once graced the cinema’s stage, have been brought back into the limelight.

Jill Bryan-Smith, from Belmont, worked for the tiling firm and took down the material after she and a colleague were told to clear out the building.

But instead of dumping the curtains, the 48-year-old salvaged sections which were not worn or damaged and turned her hand to making them into a jacket.

It is thought the curtains could date back to the cinema’s days as the Crescent, as the fabric features crescent moons and stars.

After digging it out of a box to show the launderette’s owners Kathy and Richard Turner, Jill plans to pass it on to 16-year-old daughter Amber, a student at Durham Sixth Form.

“I think it would have been about 23-years-ago,” said Jill, now a full-time housewife.

“We were told to clear it up because it was looking rough.

“I just thought they would make a good jacket and I used to wear it when I went out.

“Amber was looking at new Versace prints and when I saw them I thought ‘I’ve got something that looks just like that’.”

Kathy, 49, who oversees the cleaning business, which includes a cafe and hosts music and poetry performances after hours, said: “It’s the first physical piece of the old cinema we’ve seen.

“It helps to be able to picture what it must have been like.”

Kathy and Richard, who live in Durham City, have researched the history of the building and have photographs and posters from its past on display.

l See tomorrow’s Echo for more on the story behind the Old Cinema Launderette.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham