Independent cinema up for sale as Dorothy, 81, decided to retire

Photo: David Hurst
Longridge Cinema owner Dorothy Williamson
Photo: David Hurst Longridge Cinema owner Dorothy Williamson
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One of Lancashire’s quirkiest cinemas is up for sale, as its 81-year-old owner has decided to retire.

The Palace cinema in Longridge has been run as community concern by Dorothy Williamson for the last 41 years.

Photo Ian Robinson
Changing times, Dorothy Williamson, owner of the Palace Cinema in Longridge who has had to replace her 35mm projector with a new digital one

Photo Ian Robinson Changing times, Dorothy Williamson, owner of the Palace Cinema in Longridge who has had to replace her 35mm projector with a new digital one

She has now decided that it’s time to retire, but has vowed to keep the Palace going until a buyer can be found.

She said: “I am 81 and it’s time to retire. But I can look back with a great deal of pride and pleasure on what I have achieved in that time.

“It’s a case of selling The Palace as a going concern with everything in it, all the equipment, everything, but keeping it together and letting it be what it’s always been – a special place for the town of Longridge.

“I would prefer it to stay as a cinema or theatre – or both – I will keep it going until it sells but I would love a group of people, a consortium or even interested individuals, to get together and continue it as a going concern.”

The asking price for the cinema is £300,000, and Dorothy is hoping that a community group might take it on.

Ken Hind, leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council who represents Dilworth ward in Longridge, said he was at first alarmed by the sale news of a cinema he’s known since boyhood, always regarded “as a unique experience” and so different from the big, modern multiplexes.

He said: “My immediate reaction was that a community trust led by the borough council, Longridge Town Council, local businesses, voluntary organisations and interested people should be formed to keep the cinema open as a community facility, run on similar lines to Dorothy’s.

“There would be a number of options, through Longridge Social Enterprise Group for instance, introduce trustees to run a consortium, an organisation to talk over the cinema’s future and funding in detail.”

Borough and town councillor Rupert Swarbrick said it would be great to save The Palace as a community facility.