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Bury St Edmunds cinema manager Pat Church restores a piece of venue's history




A Bury St Edmunds cinema manager has restored a piece of the venue’s history in a ‘labour of love’.

Pat Church spent about 100 hours plastering and painting the ornate wall mural in Abbeygate Cinema’s new premier screen.

The eye-catching feature dates back to the Hatter Street venue’s days as the Central Cinema and was hidden in a wall cavity when the building was revamped to become The Abbeygate in 1959.

Pat Church has restored an ornate wall mural in the premier screen of Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton
Pat Church has restored an ornate wall mural in the premier screen of Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton

It was discovered in 2016 when the walls were removed as part of redevelopment works for a new screen.

Pat, semi-retired front of house manager, said: “It was in a dilapidated condition but still looked so regal. We wanted to keep it as part of our modern day screen with the old part still prevailing.

“We got the architect to draw it into the plan and I spent several weeks there lovingly restoring it.”

The Central interior - the mural is situated to the left of the proscenium and was featured until 1959 when the building underwent a revamp to become The Abbeygate (42779671)
The Central interior - the mural is situated to the left of the proscenium and was featured until 1959 when the building underwent a revamp to become The Abbeygate (42779671)

Pat, who has worked at the cinema for more than 50 years, said although the restoration was a challenge, it was a ‘labour of love’.

“It’s the old fashioned plaster with all the horse hair in it - it was a difficult one,” he said.

“I got there and got it all painted up. I’m quite proud of it now.

The style of mural would have originally been on either side of the proscenium in The Central.

The ornate wall mural before it was restored (42779673)
The ornate wall mural before it was restored (42779673)

“It was 100 years old and hopefully it will last another 100 years,” Pat said.

“Funnily enough since it’s been done, it’s an actual focal point now.

“Everyone wants to see it and talk about it.”

With cinemas struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, Pat said ‘so many people’ have asked how they can help Abbeygate ‘through this difficult time’.

He said: “The one sure thing they could do would be to buy gift vouchers either for use at a later date or a gift for a friend.

“Sales of these would help considerably, and everyone is a winner.”

Last week, Abbeygate announced it was offering free temporary membership to members of closed cinemas.

Members of cinemas in Bury St Edmunds and neighbouring towns and cities which have temporarily closed are invited to show their cinema membership card at Abbeygate to receive a temporary guest membership for six months.

It will give them up to £2 off every cinema ticket and 10 per cent off food and drink in the cinema’s No.4 Restaurant & Bar.

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