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20 years of blockbusters and counting

Created on 13/01/2012 @ 16:09
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Richard Thacker admits that it seems like yesterday he was flicking the ‘play’ switch to screen Walt Disney’s Snow White at the re-opened Pola Cinema.
It was a proud moment for the family as his father Charlie had taken over the management of the cinema which had become part of an entertainment complex including Images night club and a cafe.
And almost 20 years on to the day, Richard, who took over the helm following his father’s death in 2004, reflects on two decades of screening some of the world’s biggest films and the challenges ahead which means it has never been more important for the town to support its local cinema.
“It has been an incredible 20 years and we are indebted to the support of the town and surrounding communities,” said Richard, who now runs the cinema with his partner Wendy Lee (pictured) and with the support of his son, Simon. “The Pola means a lot to the Thacker family. We are a small, family run business so the introduction of multiplex cinemas has made it a tougher environment for cinemas like ours but we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Those challenges include the inevitable costly introduction of digital technology and finding new ways of telling the town what’s on just down the road instead of travelling, and spending twice as much, watching the same films in Shrewsbury.
And that’s where mywelshpool hopes to help out. We will announce what’s on at the cinema every Thursday on the site along with an alert to our Facebook and Twitter followers.
“We are very conscious that times are tough and money is tight so we reflect that on our ticket prices which are among the lowest in the country,” said Richard, whose father had been a mainstay at the Pola since joining from school in the 1950’s as a projectionist and met his mother Nancy there who was working in the Pola Milk Bar.
A little research shows his price claims are spot on. Pola prices are £4.75 and £3.75 (Under 12 and senior citizens) compared to £8 and £6 in Shrewsbury. Throw in cheaper pop corn, sweets and minimal travel costs and a family night at the movies can be 50% cheaper on our doorstep.
Being ‘small’ and independent means that offers like the 2-for-1 Orange Wednesdays are simply not practical but the rack rate still makes it tremendous value any night of the week.
So, with a season of blockbusters including Mission Impossible, The Iron Lady, War Horse, Sherlock Holmes and the new Twighlight film, 2012 looks set to be a busy year at the box office. But what films have provided the most memorable moments since 1992?
Titanic!” says Wendy who admits to “knowing every word” while they both recall Mama Mia “had them dancing in the aisles”. But Richard recalls the impact that one lesser known film had on the area.
“The Hugh Grant film The Man Who Went up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain was filmed in Llanrhaeadr and hired local people for key roles and parts as extras.
“I remember the excitement of people pointing themselves out on the screen or someone they knew,” he said.
Films have been shown in the town since a mobile cinema did the rounds in the early 1900’s. Several locations were then used for 30 years – including the current Mark’s Autos building – before the big screen finally found its permanent home at the Pola in 1938. It closed in 1989 with the redevelopment of the building into an all-round entertainment centre before the Thackers re-opened it in 1992 as a one screen 154-seat cinema (pictured) before a second screen, with 40 seats, was added two years later.
Keeping the cinema going is tough work and relies on the support of a small team of dedicated people around the clock, but Richard and Wendy admit it has its many rewards.
“When I see people leaving with smiles on their faces and talking about the film they have just watched it makes it all worthwhile,” said Richard.
Look out for what’s on at the Pola through our Thursday alerts or bookmark the Pola web site on
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