Welcome to Prestatyn Scala History
Telling the history and story behind Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.
Born in Liverpool in 1872, the founder of the Scala’s real name was James Roberts. He later changed it to Saronie in 1912, as he felt it was more impressive in his work as a cinematographer.
More than a century has passed, since a man had a dream to entertain Prestatyn with the magic of cinema…
A brief history of Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema
Prestatyn’s original Scala Cinema building, opened during 1913 by pioneering founder James ‘Saronie’ Roberts who since 1910 had been showing films at Prestatyn’s Town Hall for what was advertised as an “Exhibition of animated pictures”, including the funeral of the late King.
The Scala cinema underwent a large refurbishment in 1966. Sadly, it was eventually forced to close in December 2000, an all too familiar tale and combination of local authority serial neglect, poor oversight by senior leadership, and the inevitable escalating cost of long overdue, vital repairs.
The Friends of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre were formed in 2001 and continued to work to see it reopened (often against a background of challenging and sometimes political circumstances) until January 2016. Eventually becoming a licensed charity, The Friends were committed to ensuring Prestatyn’s residents and visitors received a quality, manageable and sustainable modern replacement cinema and theatre facility; and despite naysayers and opposition, we now have it.
Constructing a 21st century cinema and arts centre
Construction of the new Scala commenced in February 2007 and was completed in late 2008. When the Scala finally re-opened on Friday February 13th in 2009, its state of the art facilities immediately began to help regenerate Prestatyn, whilst also helping to increase employment, contributing towards tourism and helping drive, as a catalyst, the local economy. The new Scala Cinema and Arts Centre provided much needed modern and comfortable facilities, for a variety of community and volunteer groups, although sadly for many such groups it was unaffordable.
Goodbye to old Friends
In January 2016, following discussions with regulators, as a charity the Friends of the Scala could no longer support the Scala cinema since it was by now a commercial enterprise. In a press release, the Friends acknowledged this was not a sad event; firstly, the Friends had achieved what they initially set out to do, namely the rebuilding of the cinema after its closure in 2000. Secondly, they had continued to support the Scala when it was run as a charitable company. The Friends therefore felt that the future of the cinema was in safe hands, and looked forward to its continued success.
Saronie would finally have been very impressed and more than a little proud…
Prestatyn’s modern Scala now provides a convenient and exciting digital cinema, the first digital cinema in Wales, later enhanced with exciting technologies such as 3D and 4K, bringing the town’s residents and visitors the very latest blockbuster films, quality exhibition facilities and an exciting theatre venue.
This website now exists to recognise the history and stories behind the cinema, founder and pioneer Saronie, and the contributions made by the local community who continue to cherish the Prestatyn Scala.