Magic Lantern cinema, Tywyn

Magic Lantern cinema, Tywyn

This is one of the oldest cinemas in Wales. Today the programme includes live streaming of shows and music, as well as films.

The building was originally the Assembly Rooms, opened in December 1893 on the site of a “row of tumbledown cottages”. It was a commercial venture by Mrs JE Price of the Whitehall Hotel, responding to local frustration at the lack of a large hall.

The building accommodated up to 1,000 people. It featured a wood-block floor designed for dancing, with a balcony for dance bands. Architects George Jones & Son of Aberystwyth specified a modern ventilation system and fire exits to allow full evacuation within two minutes.

On the opening day, the Towyn Brass and Reed Band marched through the town, escorting to the building Dr Frederick Grosholz, the district’s German-born medical officer, and his wife, whose philanthropy included supporting the poor of Tywyn and intermediate education for under-privileged children. George Jones presented the couple with a silver key to unlock the doors.

The townspeople gave Mrs Price a gold brooch. Her “commendable public spirit” enabled a choral society to be formed (previously there was no suitable venue). The building hosted meetings, sports such as badminton, auctions and the town’s eisteddfod. Entertainments included performances by pierott clowns. In 1899 a charity concert for the County School was given here by the ladies’ choir of Madame Clara Novello Davies, mother of the hit songwriter Ivor Novello.

In March 1900 “electrician and inventor” Arthur Cheetham projected films at the Assembly Rooms. He had started showing films in 1897 in Rhyl, and opened Rhyl’s first cinema in 1906. He was also a film-maker, and his programme for the 1900 screening in Tywyn included “new Welsh films”. The main attraction was action footage from “The Transvaal War” (Boer War).

A showing of “all the latest films” here in 1903 included footage of the Gordon Bennett Cup motor race in Ireland.

The building was known as the Assembly Cinema after the First World War, and later The Ritzy. The cinema is still run by a local independent company. It was renamed the Magic Lantern in 2012. In 2018 it opened on Christmas Day for a film screening, lunch and carol singing, so that people living alone had a place to meet others. The building is available for groups to hire.

Postcode: LL36 9DF    View Location Map

Website of the Magic Lantern cinema