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Situated on St Johns Street, the Alhambra cinema offers first class cinema entertainment in traditional surroundings.
Open seven days a week, the cinema prides itself on its tasteful decor, comfortable environment and impeccable customer service.
The cinema has Dolby Digital Sound, seats 246 people, and provides wheelchair access. An extensive range of confectionery and refreshments are available to compliment your visit.
While we have retained traditional 35mm film projection capability to screen classic films only available in that medium, we now also offer full digital cinema with a state of the art Barco Digital Projector and Dolby Processor which provides an incredibly sharp, bright picture with magnificent colour rendition and 5.1 digital sound. The quality of the performance has to be seen & heard to be believed!
Our current programme is already mailed to to several hundred people every week and if you would to be added to this mailing list please contact email@example.com.
As well as operating up-to-date programming, the cinema also plays host to Keswick Film Club every Sunday evening from September to March.
The film club was formed in December 1999, and produced its first short season of 10 films in the period February-April 1999. Based at the Alhambra Cinema, the Club is run by a group of enthusiasts who try to bring the people of Keswick and the surrounding area the best of British and World cinema: high quality, thought-provoking films which are often not given a screening in the local cinemas. More information can be found here.
‘One of my favourite cinemas in which to see a film, the Alhambra Cinema in Keswick has been entertaining audiences from 1913. Until the 1980’s it was still lit by gas. It has a wonderful ornate façade with Edwardian swags of fruit decorating the two-storey building.
Inside, the screen previously painted on the rear wall has been brought forward to accommodate cinemascope but the traditional stalls and balcony remains with decorative bands across the flattened barrel vault ceiling.
Often threatened with closure, the Alhambra keeps surviving and has been updated with new seating and Dolby Stereo. A film society arranges vintage/classic screenings on Sunday evenings through the winter months. If you visit the Lake District, a visit to the Alhambra is a must!’
Keswick is a town of around 5,000 people. Since the 19th century, it has been a centre for explorers, tourists and walkers in the Lake District. Situated beside Derwentwater, it is near Skiddaw with Helvellyn, Scafell and Great Gable all within walking distance.
The first cinemas were brought here by fair showmen in halls such as the Victoria Hall in Borrowdale or Lake Road before the 1st World War. The Pavilion, noted as the Queen of the Lakes Pavilion in Station Street too was an early venue. On 27th May 1913, The Keswick Alhambra Theatre Co. Limited was formed and registered with £2,000 capital to acquire certain houses and lands in St. John’s Street and to carry on business of theatre, music hall and exhibitions of motion pictures. It was a private company with between four and eight directors with H. T. Pape being Managing Director.
Thus the imposing building to be known as the Alhambra Picture Theatre arose and was opened in time for Christmas 1913. Before the declaration of war in August 1914, it had one show daily with two changes of programme weekly. There was seating for some 595 people. Prices ranged from 4d up to 1/3d. Licences were held for music, dancing and cinematograph. Variety acts performed on the stage with a small orchestra or pianist playing for the accompaniment. It seems that it was never really intended for larger shows, having just two small dressing rooms for the artistes underneath the stage. Mr. J. H. Denwood managed the hall at this time. In the 1900’s, he was a cinema exhibitor in the United States returning to this country in 1912 and arranging the opening of the Alhambra, the first presentation was the original version of ‘QUO VADIS’.
By 1916, it was in competition for film audiences with the Pavilion or, as it was delightfully listed in the Kinematograph Year Book that year as ‘The Queen of the Lakes Pavilion’. Mr. G. P. Abrahams’ Victoria Hall was still noted through the War years too. By the 1920’s, the Alhambra Picture Theatre was leased to County Entertainments Ltd., now being known simply as the Alhambra. It passed through the 1920’s along with the Victoria into the the time of the ‘talkies’. A British Thomson Houston (BTH) sound system was installed. Soon, the cinema passed into the hands of Richmond (Northern) Cinema Ltd. Thereafter, the Pavilion on Station Road was enlarged and refurbished and fitted with RCA sound equipment.
By 1939, the Alhambra was running twice nightly between June and September with one show nightly through the winter except on Mondays and Saturdays when there were two shows. Prices now ranged from 6d up to 1/6d. During the years of the 2nd World War, the Pavilion cinema/theatre was listed as having nearly 1,000 seats. Its proscenium arch was some 35 feet in width and the stage was 35 feet by 22 feet, much larger than the Alhambra. A café and dance hall were now within the Pavilion complex. Until this time, the Pavilion had always been privately owned but it was now to be taken over by the Alhambra Company.
Both cinemas continued into the 1950’s, spurred on by holidaymakers who had not yet found their way abroad. In January 1957, Jack Simpson sold the Alhambra to the Graves Brothers. Cinemascope was fitted in both cinemas and, by the 1970’s, both were taken into the circuit known as Graves (Cumberland) Ltd. who were based at Maryport and Whitehaven. The Pavilion was put up for sale in the 1980’s on a downturn in business. It was advertised as a wine bar, dance hall, roller disco, workshop and yard. The manager’s flat remained also and maisonettes on the site.
In the 1980’s things were very poor for cinemas and theatres and, by 1985, the Alhambra too closed for the winter months.Now open all year again, the cinema was leased in 2006 to R J Towers & Partners of Gretna who have long been associated with cinemas around the Border area.
R J Towers was a pianist from Carnforth who accompanied silent films touring the village halls of the Solway coast before settling down at the Prize Cinema in Gretna in 1937, the third generation of his family continuing to run small independent cinemas in KESWICK, PENRITH and ANNAN. During this period the interior was fully refurbished with state of the art seating, carpeting throughout and Dolby Digital surround sound installed while successfully retaining the traditional cinema atmosphere.
In February 2012 the Alhambra once again faced an uncertain future. R J Towers & Partners had found themselves operating at a loss over the past three years and reluctantly decided not to renew the lease of the cinema from Graves (Cumberland) and closure once again seemed imminent. Concerned that the Alhambra could be closed just two years short of its Centenary, the manager for twenty years, Tom Rennie decided to take up a five year lease from March 2012 and he is optimistic that he can operate the Alhambra successfully as a family run cinema at least until 2017.
A significant change took place on the 19th September 2012 when the cinema installed the new Digital Cinema technology using a Barco DP2K-12C projector and Dolby Processor. The 50 year old 35mm projection equipment was retained and is still used from time to time as required.
A further advance in technology took place in June 2013 when the cinema installed the necessary satellite receiving equipment to allow the presentation of live plays, operas and ballet from the world’s leading venues.
The Alhambra held it’s Centenary Celebrations in February 2014 in conjunction with the Annual Film Festival held by the Keswick Film Club, when the ten best films for the last century were screened free of charge. A film was commissioned to mark the occasion, recording the memories of many past customers and staff of the cinema. This 30 min film can be viewed on line at https://vimeo.com/98131753 (The required password is alhambra).