Saturday, 27 February 2010

Alpha Picture Palace

Drawing for the new entrance of the first Alpha...thanks to Tjitte de Vries and Ati Mul, international experts on Melbourne-Cooper's career, who would of course like to see a cinema back on this site.... £870,000

see allaboutstalbans for more details....

but we can't really be pleased about the money. It's still not a million. It's March 1 on Monday. We're in debt to Wattsdown's patience as well & how long can that be expected to last?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Arthur Melbourne-Cooper puzzle - can you help?

Is this church in St Albans or a nearby village? Do you know where? These are stills from a Melbourne-Cooper movie over which there is a scholarly dispute about directorship. If you can identify where it is the question will be solved...

Alpha cinema -the latest 25 February 2010

total now £840,000...see Allaboutstalbans site for more detalis....

so if 150 people sponsor seats by tomorrow, or one wise donor/investor can come up with £150k, that'll be it. If not the alligator developers who are always prowling around St Albans will pounce and bingo...... goodbye cinema, goodbye precious piece of film history, goodbye to the idea that St Albans can ever act independently and have what its citizens want. And anyone who thinks that instead we will magically acquire a nice little multiplex without an associated scheme of nightmare proportions is naive beyond words.

This has been a long saga and some of us have the folders of notes from lengthy planning inquiries and associated letters to prove it. More than sad for the town if it has all been for nothing but another block of luxury flats.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Alpha cinema St Albans - latest total 24 Feb

The money has now reached £814,000 - see allaboutstalbans for full facts and more from J Hannaway.

But even those of us with poor accounting skills can see this rate is not going to achieve £1 million by the end of the week. At least one can say all it will take now are 180 people to sponsor a seat but that's asking a lot in forty eight hours.

Good intentions and plans to send something next week are not enough. Do it now. Or the Alpha will be no more a reality than the poor old Doncaster Odeon...see the horrible story below......(St Albans the future, posted 2 February)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Alpha cinema 23 Feb.....

Latest statement on allaboutstalbans from James Hannaway.

It's so simple: yes, loans and investments are more complicated, but to finish this deal it would only take 4 busloads of people to sponsor a seat......

just in terms of the local businesses and institutions who will benefit hugely from the regeneration of London Road, and who could now sponsor a seat, this form of donation must make sound sense.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Alpha fund £800,000 & a week to go

See allaboutstalbans for full facts and latest from James Hannaway.

200 people to sponsor seats @£1000 each needed. A thousand might seem a lot of money but it's what plenty of people spend on weekend breaks, or a new gadget they don't really need, or a party they live to regret having anyway. You could club together with friends to raise the money...

...because if we don't get this together by the end of the month then all those people who go around saying St Albans should have a cinema, and who haven't shared in this enormous local effort will know who to blame when the Odeon is lost...themselves, and their lack of courage and generosity.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Chris Adkins R.I.P.

from the Herts Ad. 18 2 2010

the family of a St Albans man who died recently - Christopher Adkins - have asked for donations to the cinema fund instead of flowers at his funeral to be held on Wednesday.

Chris was a nice man who cared about St Albans. It would be good if there was enough for his name to be on one of the seats in the Alpha......

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Alpha cinema St Albans - alternatives: a modest proposal

Sadly the For Sale sign is back, relegating the Odeon from desired hot property to white elephant status once again.

Yet could it be we are being a little precious? For in truth St Albans is not short of cinemas locally – Hemel, Hatfield and, closest of all, Borehamwood – yes, Borehamwood, recently nationally noted as the home of the Jigsaw murderer. Borehamwood has a multiplex – click here for full details. Teen-attractive programmes, a cheerfully colourful foyer well served with drink machines etc. and reasonable prices. And it’s only 6 or 7 minutes away on the train, which you might remember is this blog’s recommended mode of travel. You could even combine your trip with a visit to the 24 hr Tesco’s not far down Shenley Road – also conveniently full of fast food outlets.

All this on our doorstep. Why on earth are some of us getting so worked up about a derelict art deco pile like the Odeon? Why in fact aren’t some of us detaching ourselves from sentiment about our house values, selling up and moving to Borehamwood so we and our families can become regular, happy members of the Reel’s audience?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Alpha cinema fund

Latest total is £718 K. See Allboutstalbans

If only another 200 people would sponsor a seat..relative peanuts...that will be it more or less...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

St Albans cinema rescue

This is a picture of a bored eleven year old. It was a cold winter Sunday. The television had broken down and drawing pictures was not going to be enough for long enough. So we went and saw Big Foot and the Hendersons at the Odeon. Not a movie I'd make a huge effort to see again but it was entertaining enough to save the day. Not the only time the Odeon rescued anyone of course. I expect there are thousands of stories out there about the Odeon, or the Capitol as it was during WW2, rescuing people from boredom, depression, loneliness, anxiety.

Now, of course, the rescue is the other way round.....

Alpha fund rises

Today (11 Feb) the total has reached £ Statement from James Hannaway and facts as ever on as well as the Herts Ad's site.

St Albans Chamber of Commerce is also encouraging support.

Look out for leafleting in the market on Saturday and in the Farmers' market on Sunday. I hope all those nice people who take a leaflet, even in the snow, saying Yeah, I'll have a read, do...

Monday, 8 February 2010

the Alpha....getting the money there

Total now more than £500,000. See for the latest figures.

Wrote another cheque, but thought I would take it over myself as it’d be quicker. Arrived at 12.45 at Watford Junction to find the Platform 8 waiting room contained fed up looking people and a computer screen listing nothing but delays and cancellations. Waiting there still was the 12.11 to Birmingham train full of passengers. Time passed. No trains went anywhere. The people on the train were told to get off – maybe a hundred of them who had got on at Euston expecting to be taken to Brum. They (especially the Americans ) were not happy. They all thundered off down the stairs with their little cases on wheels, and towards the nearest manager at the barriers. When I moaned to a member of staff he said it was taking a long time to fix because it depended on where they had to come from to fix it, as if all this were taking place in the Scottish Highlands. Well done, Network Rail.

Still it was easy for me. All I had to do was catch the next faithful Flyer back home, the only service at Watford junction which was working.

Posting my cheque in St Peter St I met a friend doing the same. He told me about the total going up to 500k+.

So that’s 2 lots of money, and probably lots more, on its way. What will be the total this time tomorrow? This is kind of exciting. Or it would be if so much didn’t rest on it. Today in the grey February sleet the Odeon looked particularly forlorn and vulnerable.

But at least it is still there. And the cash to rescue it is bubbling up like yeast.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Alpha cinema - St Albans Labour party gets it wrong

2 extracts from a Labour party leaflet currently being circulated - under the heading Cinema News (sic)

...the current proposals for a single screen 'art house' cinema do not meet the needs of the city. They may delight the Civic Society, but will provide nothing for our young people or families who will still have to travel to Hatfield, Garston or Hemel to see the latest films.


It is sad that inaction by the Lib-Dems lead(sic) to two schemes for a real city centre cinema with parking being lost.

Well, apart from pointing out that those 'cinemas' were rejected because of the horrendous developments they were part of, words, for once, almost fail me. Maybe people don't have enough reasons for not voting Labour this year (Iraq/the economy/avaricious M.P.s etc.). Oh why not add to the list by attacking the local desire to have our historic, purpose built cinema back. A master stroke of political strategy by Alma Rd H.Q..

the Alpha St Albans - eleventh hour facts

statement as of today (7 2 010) now on Allaboutstalbans site.

You might need to flex your synapses a bit to alternate between the Hannawayese idioms and the financial facts - but in the end the gist is clear enough: there is still time to help.

Bear in mind - there will be '000's of people (not just here but in places like London Colney, Shenley, Borehamwood etc) who will enjoy going to the Alpha and who don't, and never will have, the resources to help with this effort. If those of us who can pay at this point don't then it's not just us who will be going without.

(Sorry this is just dull old text. I know a pic of a signed cheque wd be nice. Not yet though.)

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Alpha leaflet campaign Sat 6 2 010

Leafleting in St Albans market (near M&S) from 10.30 today ...see comment below from Sarah.

Anyone who wants to help now, or who would like to take leaflets to distribute elsewhere please just turn up...

Friday, 5 February 2010

Alpha cinema opportunities and audiences

Satyajit Ray takes a shot

As we are all too painfully aware the battle to rescue the Odeon and reopen it as a Rex style working cinema has hit a nasty moment fundswise. But there are some who have been forecasting doom for the project from the outset. A minority, of course, but they do exist. One of them is the Picotts End Residents Association blog which said back in the autumn:

But St Albans isn't Berkhamsted. The Rex succeeded because it was a David and Goliath kind of battle which people in a small town greatly applauded. St Albans is more streetwise and chavvy than Berkhamsted.

My own Borehamwood ingrained instincts tell me that anyone who thinks St Albans is chavvy needs to get out more but maybe that’s how people in Berko and its environs see S.A. Certainly there are differences. S.A. is bigger, livelier, much more mixed in class/ethnicity/ and age groups. But surely this is not a drawback to having a successfully functioning cinema? Surely it offers all sorts of opportunities for ventures that the Rex, lovely though it is, could never stretch to. The Alpha could for example host short film festivals for the culturally diverse audience it will command - for example festivals of Italian, Bengali, Irish and Polish interest. S.A. is not short of teenagers who would be game for all sorts of programming, with or without 3D spex. Older people in S.A. tend to the media/bohemian far more than in the Rex's own audience. No offence meant, Berko, but anything the Rex can do, the Alpha could do with more risk and boldness. Streetwise and chavvy it may be here, but since when did that ever mean a lack of life – or people willing to buy a cinema ticket??

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Alpha St Albans Civic Society leaflet campaign

This is currently being distributed to help the fund raising bid...just in case you're not lucky enough to get one pushed through your door here's the text in full......


Wouldn’t it be nice to have The Odeon back again?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were just like The Rex in Berkhamsted?
With days to go before exchange and completion, James Hannaway, the would-be buyer of this Art Deco building, urgently needs your help. Forget any assumptions about backers waiting in the wings: we are where we are.


• If you attended that packed meeting at The Rex on 29 November and made a financial offer you have yet to fulfill, PLEASE DO SO NOW.
• If you were thinking of making a contribution, think no more: ACT.
• Visit the website which is being used as well as that of The Rex for regular updates and for full details of the money-raising schemes on offer (brief details below).


• For £285, sign up for first year membership of the Advanced Booking List at the restored Odeon – possible name Alpha, after the original cinema to operate on this site.
• For £1,000, sponsor a chair with your name recorded in perpetuity.
• For undying gratitude, give a donation – of any size.
• For even more gratitude, offer a loan of £2,500 upwards. Read more about this on the websites, or contact James Hannaway direct at The Rex on 01442 877999.
• Make your cheque payable to The Alpha Cinema Ltd/The Alpha
St Albans Ltd, and send, giving name, address, tel. no. and email, making clear the appropriate category, to The Alpha St Albans, The Rex Cinema, Three Close Lane, High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 2FG.


Published by St Albans Civic Society - 01727 834113

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Alpha cinema St Albans loan from Civic Society

see the St Albans Review for details on one positive story so far this week. Text of their press release here too:


PRESS RELEASE 1 February 2010

Civic Society Lends Its Support to James Hannaway

At an emergency meeting held tonight, the committee of St Albans Civic Society unanimously agreed to help James Hannaway secure The Odeon building by making a loan of £2,500 available, subject to necessary checks arising from ITS charitable status. This represents almost a third of the Society’s funds.
Here, in no particular order, are the reasons why we believe The Odeon matters.
1 It’s a landmark building on a gateway route. Restoration here would mean regeneration for the whole area – which sorely needs it.
2 St Albans has few examples of Art Deco architecture: this is one of them.
3 It’s built on the site of The Alpha Picture Palace, the county’s first purpose-built cinema opened in 1908 by Arthur Melbourne –Cooper, the UK film pioneer, whose importance to St Albans’ heritage is recognised on the continent – if not by our own District Council. And in an elegant compliment to this local celebrity, The Alpha it may very well become …
4 We need a cinema – and a cinema for everyone with a wide-ranging programme, like The Rex. And why not a beautiful cinema too?
James Hannaway is almost certainly our last hope of saving and restoring this important building. He deserves all the support he can get.
Further Information: Marion Hammant
01727 834113

St Albans cinema - the future?

this is what will happen if the Odeon is not bought and rescued. When people talk about the cinema 'being in doubt' this is what that actually means - these are pictures of the recently demolished Odeon in Doncaster and how it used to be. And a
drawing of the architectural gem offered as its replacement.

And are the people of Doncaster happy about this? Won't they love the new shopping precinct and casino they're going to get?Maybe not- see the Doncaster Free Press