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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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We'll regret demolishing former Carlisle cinema says campaigner

A woman who fought for years to save Carlisle’s historic Lonsdale Cinema says she will always believe the city wasted a golden opportunity.

Edna Croft photo
Edna Croft

As demolition of the 1930s art deco building began this week, Edna Croft said she was “gutted” to think the cinema, which closed in 2006, would now be lost forever.

The crumbling Lonsdale, on Warwick Road, was bought at auction last year by the people transforming the neighbouring Post Office building into the city’s first aparthotel.

It will be demolished and initially used as a car park. Mrs Croft, who headed the Save Our Lonsdale campaign group – which had hoped to turn the cinema into an arts centre – believes Carlisle will one day regret letting it fall.

“I do think we will be sorry. I truly think that to be a city you need a viable theatre, and an independent cinema that can show anything we like, rather than what Warner Bros says we should be watching.

“We have lost an entirely amazing opportunity that would have brought buses to the city with people who would spend money in the centre. I will think that for the rest of my life. I’m simply gutted.”

After years of uncertainty, the demolition process finally began on Monday, though it will be weeks before any external walls start coming down.

Site manager Bill Devine said initially they are working inside the building to get it ready for demolition.

Mrs Croft said seeing the site flattened will be a real blow to everyone who fought to save it.

“I can’t believe all the hours that this wonderful community spent on this, for absolutely nothing,” she added.

“I would also ask whether it is a measure of democracy – there was a petition of 15,000, a march, yet they have not listened at all to what the people want. They have spent millions on other things.”

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