A fond farewell: Former owner of The Luxe Cinema, Wisbech, pays it a glowing tribute after selling it to independent cinema company

PUBLISHED: 13:02 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 23 August 2017

Former owner of The Luxe, Burleigh Ibbott, relaxing in one of its 70 seats ahead of its opening in 2009.

Former owner of The Luxe, Burleigh Ibbott, relaxing in one of its 70 seats ahead of its opening in 2009.

Archant

The former owner of The Luxe Cinema has paid an emotional tribute to the town-centre venue following its takeover.

Burleigh Ibbott and NE Cambs MP, Steve Barclay, outside The Luxe cinema in Wisbech.Burleigh Ibbott and NE Cambs MP, Steve Barclay, outside The Luxe cinema in Wisbech.

Burleigh Ibbott opened the one-screen cinema in 2009 and enjoyed eight years in Wisbech before selling it to independent cinema company the Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company last month.

And this week, Mr Ibbott took to Facebook to thank all of his customers – and revealed that he has turned down an opportunity to manage the cinema under its new owners – in a post entitled ‘Dear Friends of The Luxe.’

It said: “I would firstly like to take the opportunity to thank all my patrons for their support over the years.

The Luxe has been bought by Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company.The Luxe has been bought by Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company.

“The loss of ownership has been a very sad part of mine and my family’s life. We live in Wisbech and would like to think we have taken the town and the surrounding areas, in our hearts.

“I’d like to thank all the staff past and present, especially longer-standing members like Laura Smith who has lived the journey with us from the beginning, Natasha Williams who also worked for us for many years and Daniel Tierney who most of you will know is still there.

“I would lastly like to add that I had been given a verbal offer of the managerial role and after working a short time with them, I have decided to decline. This is down to differences of opinions. However, I am glad that Picturedrome Cinemas have come in and saved it.

Cats Whiskers students and cinema staff outside The Luxe Cinema.Cats Whiskers students and cinema staff outside The Luxe Cinema.

“They are planning to do some of the things that we’d hoped to do if we’d had the finance (like a second screen). Adam and his team seem very committed to the project ahead and with this will let my legacy of The Luxe live on.”

Mr Ibbott, who is originally from East London, also told of how he travelled the length and breadth of the country searching for the 70 seats that his customers “have all known and loved for so long”.

He said: “The seats were a real feat to conquer and reading your lovely comments about them took me back to my endless search.

“They were never chosen from a catalogue – I travelled to Brighton, Chiswick, and even the Midlands, sitting on so many. I knew that customer comfort was one of the most fundamental factors to me.

“My wife and I did laugh when by chance in a coffee shop in Peterborough, we came across the seats.”

His emotional post also gave a brief summary of the history of the cinema – including how he bought its 35mm projector from the Army for £25,000 – and how it became one of the first in the country to re-introduce intermissions.

“Film companies generally do not like intermissions so we were in fact very privileged to be one of the few cinemas around the country that did it,” he added.

“The film reel could only hold one hour and 50 minutes of film, including adverts and trailers. We had to stop to lace up the second film reel, thus having an intermission. In the case of Harry Potter, Warner Bros gave us a use of a special intermission film strip.

“We carried on using the intermission when we went digital. Film companies knew but never objected, as I expect we were too small.”

The new owners, who operate six other cinemas across the country, have pledged to reduce ticket prices and install a second screen.

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