The Granville cinema and theatre in Ramsgate is on track to open to the public this May with a schedule of shows already booked.
Westwood One Ltd, which also operates Under 1 Roof Thanet in Pysons Road and Under 1 Roof Canterbury, completed the purchase of the site from Thanet council last October.
The company, run by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard, has since been working on renovations to bring the site back into use as a theatre and cinema with café, restaurant and community arts space.
There will be one auditorium – as was the case in the 1940s – with a 600 seat capacity, full regeneration of the theatre space, a sea view café and bar, exhibition space, co-working space, workshop and education space.
Mum-of-one Zahra, who with sister Parisa also heads up Regency Performance Arts C.I.C and Regency Productions, said: “Everything is going to schedule for a May opening and we have some amazing shows booked in – musicals, music artists and plays – and we can’t wait to get started.
“There wasn’t too much structurally to do, it has been more internal renovations and getting ready to fit out the auditorium. This will have almost 600 seats which means we can get a larger variety of shows, including professional and touring productions, due to the increased capacity.”
During the works the team has uncovered some 1960’s posters from the venue and they are appealing to people to get in touch if they’d like to share memories, old programmes, posters and photos.
Zahra says the April opening date was pushed back slightly due to the busy schedule of Regency Productions which is performing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Dreamland’s Hall by the Sea from April 6-9.
The café and restaurant will also be open to the public who are invited to pop in for coffee or lunch.
Zahra said: “The café and restaurant will be open all the time so people don’t have to go to the theatre to use them and come and see the building.”
It is estimated around 20 jobs will be created with the Granville reopening.
Foreign film nights, immersive cinema evenings, theatre shows, comedy, waiter service screenings, live music, poetry readings, creative workshops, exhibitions, technical training opportunities and apprentice schemes for young creatives are all planned.
Bookings are also being taken from those who would like their shows to take place at the theatre. Get in touch with the team at [email protected]
The freehold for the building had been owned by Thanet council which took formal possession of the venue in 2021 after the impact of covid left the Granville Theatre Ltd team – who had been running the site – with no option but to relinquish it. The venue had been shut since the start of the pandemic.
In October 2021 Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners the theatre. The site was the marketed by Miles & Barr Commercial with Westwood One being announced as the successful bidder last September.
Get in touch with the team at [email protected]
A potted history of the Granville
The building began its life as the newly-created Granville Concert Enclosure with a partial roof and windbreaks in 1914, upgraded with a new canvas awning in 1920. The building’s primary purpose was in offering a summer season Concert Party. This was a music-hall mix of musicians, singers and comedy acts.
In 1924 it was given a new roof offering “now complete shelter from the wind and rain” and a new name as The Granville Concert Pavilion .
The old Granville Pavilion was damaged beyond repair in World War Two and was demolished. The New Granville Theatre, as it was originally known, was designed by architect Mr W. Garwood at a cost of £13,100 and every usable brick from the old building was brought back into use, with new blocks being made in the town.
The theatre was declared open by the Mayor of Ramsgate Alderman Austin in June 1947.
Films were first screened from May 1986 on Sundays only, initially using 16mm projection equipment with 35mm later installed, becoming a full-time cinema from 1991. In 1997 two cinema screens were approved and the Granville Cinema was redesigned by Rowlett & Taylor of Broadstairs, retaining one screen for dual theatre/film screenings.
The Granville is Ramsgate’s last remaining cinema of the three that used to be in the town, including the Odeon and the King’s cinemas, and it is the town’s only theatre building.