I will keep it going until it sells!”
Firm words from Dorothy Williamson, the owner of the best little cinema in Lancashire, after 41 years at the helm.
It was announced on Monday that she is selling Longridge’s favourite cinema, The Palace.
She told the News: “I am 81 and it’s time to retire.
“But I can look back with a great deal of pride and pleasure on what I have achieved in that time.
“It’s a case of selling The Palace as a going concern with everything in it, all the equipment, everything, but keeping it together and letting it be what it’s always been – a special place for the town of Longridge.”
What she then adds has already been envisaged by several cinema-goers, Palace supporters, local people and councillors, when they heard the news.
She said: “I would prefer it to stay as a cinema or theatre – or both – I will keep it going until it sells....but I would love a group of people, a consortium or even interested individuals, to get together and continue it as a going concern.”
That is just what has transpired since the news spread by work of mouth and social media of Mrs Williamson’s decision to sell, the asking price being £300,000.
Leader of Ribble Valley borough council who represents Dilworth ward, Coun Ken Hind said he was at first alarmed by the sale news of a cinema he’s known since boyhood, always regarded “as a unique experience” and so different from the big, modern multiplexes.
He said: “My immediate reaction,was that a community trust led by the borough council, Longridge Town Council, local businesses, voluntary organisations and interested people should be formed to keep the cinema open as a community facility, run on similar lines to Dorothy’s.
“There would be a number of options, through Longridge Social Enterprise Group for instance, introduce trustees to run a consortium, an organisation to talk over the cinema’s future and funding in detail.”
Borough and town councillor Rupert Swarbrick said it would be great to save The Palace as a community facility.
“It’s the jewel in the crown of Longridge, an asset which is part of its history and we must pool all our efforts to keep it.”