|The main entrance, 2005|
|Two angles on Russell Street, 2005|
The cinema remained empty and most of the glass in the windows was smashed, which I always found really sad whenever I walked by and more was vandalized over the years. When someone dug out a hole in the wood panel covering the doors, I had a peek inside and the floor was strewn with litter and rubble.
In December 2000, I began writing my novel “In The Rain With The Dead” and needed a location for my baddie, a demon called Magellan, to hide out in, that was derelict and where he wouldn’t be disturbed. It didn’t take long for me to think of the Ohio (the book is set in my fictional town of Gaffney) and so I used it - lock, stock and barrel - in the novel. It first appears in the flashback section - ostensibly set in the 90s, but actually written as the 80s:
Bentleys Cinema, on Russell Street, had once been an Odeon and was built with art deco grandeur. Now, however, the ground floor had been converted into a bingo hall and the cinema was crammed into what had once been the upper tiers. It was lovingly called the ‘flea pit’ by its patrons, who were invariably teenagers and couples in their early twenties, that didn’t mind sitting in a cold auditorium, with a sound system that was around long before Dolby and seats that occasionally didn’t work.
Later, when Magellan moves in, I wrote (in early 2001) about what had been there and imagined what several years of dereliction had done to the place:
Back then, the ticket booth was at the top of the stairs, the drinks fridge and popcorn machine next to it. At the end of the counter was an open area, with doors leading to the toilets and projection booth. In the open area were some easy chairs, a pool table and a tabletop version of Space Invaders. Above the chairs, windows looked out onto Russell Street.
Now, with the smashed windows letting in the grey evening light, he surveyed the decaying, desolate foyer, far removed from its original splendour. The ticket booth and popcorn maker were covered with a sheet that had probably once been white but which was now a dusky brown and riddled with holes. The drinks fridge seemed to have been attacked with a bat, pieces lying over the counter top and across the floor. Half the chairs were gone, those remaining had had their cushions ripped out, stuffing and springs trailing onto the floor like silvery intestines. The pool table and Space Invaders machine had gone. The heavy drapes that had been sucked through the window were stained and mouldy.
I took some photographs of the exterior in 2005, when Christopher Teague at Pendragon Press published the book and it was a sorry sight. Even though houses encroached it and weeds (and trees) sprouted from the walls, even as it looked sadder every year, it stood proud. Last week, my friend Jon & I walked down Russell Street and I saw, to my great dismay, that the demolition had started. It might have been a long time coming, but very soon Kettering is going to lose a building that so much of its youth enjoyed (for whatever reasons) and which features so prominently in their memories.
|The demolition has started, 4th June 2014|
|photograph by 'infamous explorer', all rights reserved|