Scala Cinema – Ilkeston, England - Atlas Obscura
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Ilkeston, England

Scala Cinema

This 1913 single-screen cinema is a charming survivor in the age of the multiplex. 

This small town single-screen cinema is a nostalgic reminder of the importance of movie theaters before the days of television. Amazingly, the theater has managed to survive within the era of multi-screen complexes.

Even more incredible is that throughout its life it has been continually used for its original purpose. Most historic cinemas in Britain have had at least some period of either dereliction or alternative use, with many having been converted into bingo halls.

The authentic exterior boasts a beautiful period frontage complete with touches of Art Nouveau and Classical elements. Its inside nearly rivals the impressive facade. Three quarters of the rows of seats are original (people often complain they’re uncomfortable, but there is good legroom) and there’s evidence of the old gas lighting system at the rear of the interior. The restored interior decoration is as near to the original as one could hope. The modern sound system is also great.

Seeing a movie here is a real experience. If you’re lucky enough to find a screening of a classic movie then the experience is even better. For some, it’s a dose of pure nostalgia. For a younger crowd, it’s like looking back in time.

The Scala’s claim to be the second oldest functioning cinema in England does not, however, seem to be correct as there are several in the country which date back to 1909.

Know Before You Go

Tickets are much cheaper than the local multiplex cinemas. You can park next to the building in a municipal car park which is free in the evenings.

If old cinema buildings are your thing, then check out the classic 1930s "Ritz" nearby. Sadly it is now a bingo hall but the interior still has a lot of the original Art Deco decoration in place.