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INTERVIEW: New community cinema to open as villagers aim to revitalise the 'heart of Heysham'

Kyra Physick and Phil Sykes at Heysham Jubilee Institute where a new community cinema is set to open

Popular films will be screened as part of plans to bring a historic community hub in Heysham village back to life.

A community cinema is set to open at the Heysham Jubilee Institute, beginning with the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory blockbuster 'Wonka' later this month.

The new cinema is part of plans to revitalise the 19th Century building on Main Street, which was for years the heart and soul of village life.

Beyond Radio spoke to Kyra Physick and Phil Sykes from the Heysham Jubilee Institute to find out more.

"I've been involved in pop-up screenings in the past and (we thought) wouldn't it be great to bring cinema here to Heysham?" said Phil.

"Apart from the Viking Festival, Heysham village doesn't really have a consistent cultural offer. This place should be a hub for social activity. 

"Who knows, we might be talking about the Heysham International Film Festival from here! The sky's the limit."

The cinema includes new chairs, a laser projector, hi-tec sound, a big cinema screen and even a popcorn machine!

Wonka will be screened on Saturday April 20 at 10.30am and The Great Escaper with Sir Michael Caine on Friday April 26 at 7pm, followed by more regular movies in future.

Tickets available from the Institute (below).

Kyra explained that the building was given to the people in 1897 by vicar the Rev Twemlow Royds, for the social and health well being of everyone in Heysham.

"From 1897 everything that happened in Heysham happened in this building," she said.

"Then over the years it has got run down. It hasn't been used as much as it could.

"So after Covid when we didn't think it was going to open again, we took over as new trustees and a new committee. We thought, this is criminal that these doors aren't open. This belongs to all the people.

"So we decided, with the council shutting the toilets in the village, we thought we have toilets, we'd open the doors every weekend. 

"The amount of people who still come through the village is amazing."

The Institute now has a charity shop and a school uniform hub, and an upstairs room, rentable for parties and functions.

From 1947 for around 50 years, giant weighing scales were a talking point outside the Institute (see below). Tourists and villagers used to come along to sit in them and be weighed! They fell into disrepair and now have been moved inside for people to see.

The popular Spirit of Heysham sculpture (pictured below) has also been moved inside, temporarily, and there are plans to restore it to its usual proud place outside the Institute.

The trustees have wider long-term plans to fully renovate the building.

"This building will be up and running and will be here for future generations," said Kyra.

"Because it belongs to the people, it can never be closed, shut down, knocked down or taken over by anyone else.

"It's the heart of the village. It's the heart of Heysham."

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