Roger has taken a keen interest in preserving items of interest from local cinemas, and of course the Royalty theatre which showed the first projected films to an audience.
Curtains, seats, footlights, exit boxes, light fitting, even plaster work, he has saved all these important cinema artifacts from being destined to the skips as the cinemas were altered or closed. Much of the saved material Roger has diligently restored back to the original condition.
ABC Light fittings
ABC Plaster work
When Chester’s most popular cinema closed it’s doors for the last time on Thursday 14th June 2007, Roger moved swiftly to acquire many of the original light fittings, Pel sofas, signage, footlights, etc. These items would have been discarded by the inexperienced eye, for although the building has been restored and put to other use, most of the original fixtures and fittings were lost or damaged.
Roger’s most significant and well documented salvage operation took place at the Royalty Theatre in City Road. With his dedicated team of assistants he moved in shortly before the theatre was demolished, with David A Ellis to photograph the progress.
Having worked there, he was well acquainted with the items that were relevant to history of Chester’s theatre and cinema archives. Amazingly he removed the plaster-work that edged the stage proscenium. The two statues that had looked down onto the auditorium from it’s opening were given a new home (in his sitting room). Curtains, seating, carpets, signage, spotlights were but a few of the numerous items that Roger saved from this iconic building.
Some opportunities were missed when cinemas closed for alteration.
In Chester the closure and alteration of the Gaumont was the most significant. Claims that the building was mistakenly closed instead of the Odeon were unfounded. Designs on such projects were planned meticulously well in advance, but when the date was given the contractors moved in with a vengeance as they were usually on a penalty contract for completion. According to cinema staff the organ console was moved into the foyer and damaged beyond repair as debris fell on to it. This along with the majority of the original Gaumont fittings and memorabilia were lost to the rubbish skips
At that time Roger would have found it impossible to be allowed access. However, with research he and David A Ellis have located many rare photographs and articles that are relevant to this magnificent structure.
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