Plans to revamp derelict Ashton cinema
Friday 13th January 2017 @ 13:16 by Adam Higgins
Ashton Community Dukinfield News

A community interest company has been set up with the intention of revamping Ashton’s old Majestic cinema.

Tameside Live Society was created by Matt Gough, a Dukinfield resident who moved to the borough three years ago.

Matt, a professional designer, has big plans for the currently derelict building.

“When I moved here I saw this building and asked my wife what was going on with it,” said Matt. “She told me it’s the old cinema but it’s been closed for years. I thought, ‘but it’s a 1920s’ art deco building!’

“I think because of the condition it is in at the moment, people just dismiss it.

“I made some enquiries and found out that the owner is really interested in maintaining it.

“He doesn’t want to just sell it on to someone who will redevelop the site. So we set up the Tameside Live Society to try and save the building and make a difference in the community.”

The first phase of the project is to transform the building’s foyer, which has modern electrics and its original features, into an arts café which would host musicians, film makers, artists and other creative groups.

A crowdfunding page has been set up to help raise the £25,000 needed for this first phase.

To donate, you can visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Savethemajestic and anyone who does so will have their names installed on a plaque inside the café when it opens.

But that’s just the start of the Tameside Live Society’s long-term vision for the Old Street landmark.

Matt added: “The next phase will be reinstating the auditorium, at stall level.

“We’d put a new heating system in there. We’re designers so we’re designing this floor idea; it’s going to be a raised floor where the chairs come out and go back in, and the floor will tilt so we can use it for a variety of functions.”

He added: “Stage three is the balcony. I’ve got connections at Sony so we can get that turned into a state-of-the-art digital cinema with original features.

“In line with this, we’re going to renovate the outside of the building as well.

“We’re going to get some scaffolding and clean all the tiles. It was originally called the Majestic so we’re going to try and get it to look how it looked then.

“Because of its location, if that building gets done up to a high standard, we will improve that whole area.”

Matt has enlisted the support of his fellow design professionals to help him in the project, such as Josh Lynch from Warrington.

Matt and Josh met on their degree course at Chester University and Josh has been involved in a similar project in his home town.

“It was a youth café,” he said. “The idea was to create a space for local youths to come and relax.

“It was a café similar to what we’re trying to do now in the cinema. It was a place where people could come and teach different projects, for arts and music.

“It had practice rooms with electrical kits where people could come and have lessons or just have a jam with their friends.

“We set up acoustic nights and invited local artists from Warrington and the surrounding area to play and have a good night with their friends.”

Once Matt told Josh of his plans for the Majestic, he immediately jumped on board.

He said: “I’ve seen the building and it blew my mind. Matt spoke about it and I’ve known him for a couple of years now. He’s had all these cool ideas and he’ll put his money where his mouth is. He doesn’t just sit back and try to think about things. He’ll get out there and try and do it.

“We want to give back to the community so I think it’s a great idea. If we can get the funding and get the local people to recognise it’s a good idea then I think it can be a success.”

Matt estimates that the overall cost of to renovate the whole building will be between £1m-£1.5m, but he’s confident that through lottery grants and Art Council funding, it can be done.

“We’re about six months in,” he said. “We’ve tailored our CIC to the specific purpose of that building and for Tameside so the next six months is going to be very exciting.”

 

By Tom Greggan