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Movie star Richard E Grant backs bid to save Cumbrian cinema

Actor Richard E Grant has signed a petition to save Penrith’s Lonsdale Alhambra Cinema – which is closing in March after 100 years.

Richard E Grant photo
Richard E Grant in Withnail & I

The actor, who starred in the film Withnail & I – which was shot in and around Haweswater and Shap – has joined more than 2,350 other people to protest against the closure.

Charlie Thornton, manager of Penrith’s Tourist Information Centre, wrote to Mr Grant informing him of the decision to close the cinema on March 3.

In his letter he said: “I am writing to alert you of the imminent closure of a 100-year-old cinema in our Cumbrian town which you have had associations with during your acting career.

“We have just learnt that Penrith’s Alhambra/Lonsdale Cinema is closing on March 3 this year. You will remember visiting the town many years ago when you and fellow actor Paul McGann filmed Withnail & I.

“This news has come as a great shock to us and we are devastated. As I’m sure you will agree, the Alhambra/Lonsdale cinema is an institution in this region and to see it closed would do great damage to the town’s image and cultural scene.

“If you can lend your support against its closure your help would be warmly appreciated.”

The town’s cinema is set to close after the building’s owners acted on a break in its lease with its tenants.

A campaign petition has been launched on social networking site Facebook which more than 2,350 people have now signed.

The move has provoked anger in the town with residents unhappy the two-screen Lonsdale cinema – more commonly known as the Alhambra – could go, despite its annual admissions numbers doubling.

Lonsdale boss Alan Towers had wanted to keep it going, but says his landlords have other ideas for the building, describing the mood as “very sad”.

Mr Towers, who also has cinemas in Keswick and Annan, took a 10-year lease on the building five years ago, but it had a five-year break clause in which either party could walk away.

The online petition can be signed at

Have your say

We can't wait for Wetherspoons to open a pub in Penrith, a town we visit fairly regularly. Keen prices and a superb range of real ale, many from local brewers. Supporters of CAMRA. Bring it on!

Posted by Mike Blackstone on 31 January 2011 at 08:46

have been to this great little cinema. I don't know Alan but I know many who do and he has done a great job of that and the other cinemas. WE have seen the same happe to so many other cinemas throughout the country were landlords sell out to the likes of Weatherspoons, who are all so eager to jump on anyone who offers them a cinema building so they can cram as many people as possible in to drinking beer and creating massive profits for them. I have Weatherspoons!!! My advise is for your supporters to lobby your local planners and make sure they never pass planning permission for the cinema to be turned into a pub cause if the owners want to sell this for big bucks to WEatherspoons they will do. Your only hope is to lobby your council at the same time as trying to do your community buy-out.

The same thing happened to the Savoy in Heaton Moor. the owner wanted to sell it to the BArracuda group and I think Weatherspoons but the community objected strongly and the council put a block on it. Thankfully the cinema is still running and open today. Best of luck.

Posted by jonkino on 29 January 2011 at 17:31

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