Securing the State

The State Complex shortly after opening in the Thirties

The State Cinema is in the news again. Last week a meeting was held in the Old Post Office in Grays right opposite this magnificent Grade 2 Star, Listed Building and a major landmark in Grays. It was organised and run by Nigel Hebden and Helen Hayes, representatives of the Development Corporation, who recently commissioned a study of the building, with the cooperation of the owners, because of its historical interest and rarity being one of only three like it left in the country.

The meeting was held for an invited audience of groups and local individuals all united in securing its useful future and were treated to a presentation by specialist consultant architects Alan Baxter Associates, Haworth Tompkins and Locum, who have had extensive experience in assessing and producing refurbishment schemes on historic and Listed cinemas and theatres.

The quality presentation showed a series of surveys of the whole building and highlighted its outstanding internal features including the organ and the staircase and reception areas. It also presented four options for the building including commercial alterations and additions that would endeavour to respect the integrity of the structure and its features and show the potential to retain its use as a community and performance venue including film.

Amongst the invited delegates were the organisers of the Save the State campaign group, Thurrock Councillors Joy Redsell and John Kent (ward member) a national campaigner for historic cinemas and theatres and John Scowen Chairman of Thurrock Arts Council and Martyn Williams, Marketing and Publicity for Thurrock Arts Council. Martyn and John have been persistent in their efforts over the last 2 or 3 years to achieve a professional assessment of both the condition of the building and crucially its future potential.

Martyn commented to Your Thurrock “I initially raised the issue of the future of the State Cinema on our joint behalf as Arts Council representative on the Thurrock Cultural Forum whose membership includes the Development Corporation who took it up as a local issue.

The culmination of that effort was most heartening to see presented at today’s meeting an assessment by their architects that provided a very helpful basis for the sometimes passionate discussion by the delegates in the feedback session. There is no doubt about the excellent local support and effort now underway in the search for a scheme that will respectfully secure the future of an historic building that is of not just local but national historic importance and that will also benefit the community”.

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