Over a century-old cinema keeping it reel

It’s not very often that a cinema only has two screens these days and it’s even rarer that the film has an interval.

But that, along with the old, crimson red carpets, the cash register from another era, and the famed photo of movie stars gone by, is what makes Kinema in the Woods such a great cinematic experience.

Named in reference to its woodland setting in Woodhall Spa, Kinema showed its first film in 1906 and was only the 68th cinema to be opened in the country. It has an old, but loved feel about it and at first it’s hard to focus solely on the film.

The rear projection system they use was described by one 1920s film producer as “the finest projection he had yet seen in Britain, Canada or America” , and it still whirs and whizzes away at the back of the smaller screen. Any such noises would usually annoy me, but this just added to the historic feel of the place.

There are reminders of just how old Kinema is everywhere, but I managed to take my mind off my surroundings long enough to enjoy the film. Until the rough, amateur film cutting marking the interval suddenly bought me back to reality.

At this point I was hopeful that the grand piano, placed in the large space between the seating and the screen, would be played by a smart gentleman dressed in a dinner jacket, but disappointingly no one appeared.

I was also excited at the prospect of a lady entering the room selling ice cream tubs in a large tray. Unfortunately, I was disappointed again.


Kinema In The Woods is one of the country's oldest cinemas. Photo: Rodney Burton

But maybe the lack of piano playing and ice-cream selling was due to the few people who were watching our chosen film: there was only my friend and I, a family, and a couple. Due to the large queue for tickets when we arrived, I trust that the other screen was much busier, albeit with a demographic of fifty years plus.

Yet it is such a beautiful cinema that it seems a shame that so few people should visit it. There are no seven-foot promotional posters for the next 3D film, no bright lights making you squint, and buying a ticket, a drink and popcorn won’ t leave you bankrupt. What’s not to love?

It’s nice to know such a place exists. It’s almost like having a precious secret that is shared only amongst a select few. Kinema is in another time, and the older generations who come here must feel a great sense of nostalgia, stepping back into the era in which going to the ‘ flicks’ was something much more exciting than it is today. I feel privileged to have been a part of such history, let in on such a secret.

Together with cinemas in Spilsby and Mablethorpe, Kinema in the Woods is part of a small group, and I hope that they continue to resist to bow down to expansion, or bright lights, or higher prices despite the financial pressures of today, because Kinema is a cinematic experience like no other.

Forget 3D, just give me seats with no cup holders, an interval and a clicking, whirring projector in my ear and I need never visit another Odeon again.

3 Responses to Over a century-old cinema keeping it reel

  1. Ed Cottingham says:

    Sounds great! Going to the Odeon or any multiplex is not a pleasant experience these days so like you say, it’s nice to know these places exist! Just a shame it’s a bit out of the way. Just out of interest, what film did you see?

  2. Stephanie Bolton says:

    Hi Ed. Yeah it’s about a twenty minute/half hour drive away. I saw ‘Indespicable Me’ which I also highly recommend. To say it’s an old cinema they show up-to-the-minute films.

  3. Michaela Soltys says:

    I live near The Kinema and its always been the place i visit to watch films. I was quite surprised but in a good way to see this article on here because it is like a precious secret in a way. Im guessing you were in the Kinema 2 but if you ever watch a film in the big screen there, in the interval sometimes a man comes out of the floor playing the organ and the disco ball on the ceiling lights up.