Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kinema in the Woods

click photo to enlarge
The charming and very unusual Kinema* in the Woods at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, showed its first film in 1922. The cinema had been built from the remains of the sports pavilion of the Victoria Hotel that burned down in 1920. Programming on that opening evening featured a Charlie Chaplin film as the scheduled film didn't arrive in time. Most of the seats were the traditional "tip-up" variety but the front six rows were deck chairs, a feature that continued until as late as 1953.

The cinema is unusual in using rear projection. This is necessary due to the low roof timbers that would impede front projection. In the main auditorium (Screen One) the film is projected from behind the screen onto a mirror that flips the image before it goes on to the back of the screen. The building's current owners believe it is the only cinema in the UK still using this method of projection. In 1978 two electronically controlled sound projectors replaced the single sound projector that was first installed in 1928. A few years later in 1984, in a move that harked back to an earlier age in cinema and which underlined the owner's desire to make a visit to the Kinema in the Woods a real event, a Compton Kinestra organ was installed. This has a console with an ornate design in red and gold laquer. It is regularly played by the cinema's resident organist. In 1994 a second auditorium with the name "Kinema Too" was opened.

The cinema is open every evening of the week with weekend matinees. I took my photograph after an evening appointment in Woodhall Spa. Before my journey home I drove through the woods to the cinema in the hope that it was open and lit up for the evening and found it busy and surrounded by cars. The smaller photograph is a shot of the writing, illumination and advertising on the main facade. On the central gable it says,"England's Unique Cinema, Films Nightly. Down Memory Lane: The Kinema's Nostalgia Show - Featuring the Mighty Compton Organ".

* The spelling "kinema" rather than the usual "cinema" was much more common in the early days of movie film. The "k" comes from its derivation from the original Greek word for "motion". Words such as kinematographic, kinematoscope and kinema were coined as movies took off, but in time were replaced by versions beginning with "c". The original cinematographers would have been familiar with the word, "kinematics" that was used in the nineteenth century (from 1840) to describe the science of pure motion.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/15
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On