Dan Cooper highlights another of the UK’s terrific independent cinemas – and this time he’s off to Lincolnshire.
Nestled within the picturesque village of Woodhall Spa in deepest Lincolnshire lies Kinema in the Woods, one of the most unique picture houses in the UK.
The building itself started life in the late 19th century as a sports and entertainment pavilion, sitting on the grounds of the Victoria Hotel. However, when the hotel burned to the ground on Easter Sunday 1920, the pavilion was abandoned until the grounds were bought by a former MP who commissioned the repurposing of the pavilion into a cinema, as was the fashion of the time.
Showing a mixture of first-run and independent cinema, Kinema in the Woods strives to capture the glamour of golden-age Hollywood. Both screens use original features such as screen masks, curtains and light fittings to successfully evoke the charm of a bygone era. But the commitment to retaining cinema’s status as an ‘event’ is underscored by the addition of a Compton Kinestra organ, installed in 1987, which is still played in Screen One every Saturday night to accompany the film. Interestingly, the auditorium’s unique aesthetic means some of the technological solutions are equally unique: low ceiling buttresses mean that traditional ‘front projection’ methods aren’t an option. Instead, the cinema is one of only a handful in the UK that uses rear projection, where the projector is situated behind the screen and a mirror is used to flip the image onto the back of the screen.
As a village cinema, Kinema in the Woods feels it is especially important to be welcoming and inclusive. As such, they offer autism-friendly screenings and dementia-friendly screenings, as well as regular ‘senior screen’ events. Multiplex competition exists in the form of a nine-screen Odeon in Lincoln and an independent multiplex in Boston, both around 20 miles away, but Kinema in the Woods’ General Manager, Phil Jones, who started at the cinema as a projectionist in 2004 and never left, believes that local competition or not, top-quality visuals and sound are a must. Like many independent cinemas, the venue still retains its original 35mm projectors, but is primarily digital due to the flexibility it affords.
Operating consecutively for 97 years, Kinema in the Woods is quickly approaching its centenary. Along the way, some changes have been necessary, such as the switch to digital, or the removal, in 1953, of rather popular deckchairs that constituted the first six rows of seating in the auditorium because of new fire regulations. What has remained constant through the years, however, is the cinema’s commitment to quality (strengthened no doubt by the fact that it has had only three owners in that time), with unique spectacle and experience being at the heart of what Kinema in the Woods offers.
Address: Coronation Road, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire LN10 6DQ
Phone: 01539 433845
First ever screening: Most likely, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. (Was supposed to be The Lion Eaters but it never turned up!)
Dream double bill? The Dark Knight and The Prestige
Myths & Legends: Those deckchairs were the stuff of legend!