LONG-held plans to take one of the Forest’s cinemas back to its heyday are underway after enforced closure over the summer.

Andy Lougher, who runs the Palace Cinema with wife Karen in Cinderford, has reinstated the traditional raised floor in the main screen that was taken out more than 50 years ago.

He also has plans to reinstate the archway entrance to the 110-year-old picture palace on Belle Vue Road.

Andy took the opportunity to replace the floor when he was installing new seats he had bought from a multiplex in Newport.

He said: “It originally had a sloping floor but back in the 60s it became a British Legion club and they put a flat floor in.

“The period we were closed was probably the only chance I’ll ever get to remove the flat floor.

“I took it out and got down to the original sloping floor that would have been put in around 1919.

“It was a lot more of a job than I thought it would be. It took me pretty much the whole of lockdown to do it.

“Some of these adversities can be a blessing in disguise and you can get things done that you might not have otherwise done.

“The feel of the cinema is a lot better when you’ve got a sloping floor. It improves the sight lines and we wanted to replace the seats anyway.

“There were three layers of board – a layer of maple parquet which was the dancefloor and was nailed down about every eight inches

“That took some taking up especially as I was trying not to damage it too much – I had a pile seven feet high and it took a week to move.

“I cleaned up the boards and re-laid the 1960s boards on the back part and put about 40 litres of varnish on it and I had to change the doors because they were about eight inches in the air at that point.

“We’ve got permission to open the original entrance on the front of the building which was an open archway and we are hoping to push on with that sometime this year.”

Andy also extended the concrete ramp at the front of the cinema to make wheelchair access easier – and tiled it in a pattern inspired by the windows of the courthouse in Back to the Future.

“Its all about trying to restore the cinema as much as possible to how it was in the early days and trying to put back a lot of the old features.

“Our unique selling point is that it is a historic building, its slightly quirky so the more of that we can put back the better and make it an experience to go into the cinema rather than going into a supermarket with seats in.”

The cinema has been fully open since the beginning of August.

Covid security measures have been put in place such as only having eight rows of seats instead of 14 and a computer booking system that automatically leaves a two-seat gap between film fans.

Half-term will see screenings of family films such as the latest in the Cats and Dogs series and a re-make of The Secret Garden.

The lack of blockbusters also means that Andy will be able to program a Hallowe’en horror fest.

“We haven’t got a blockbuster so theoretically I can let rip on Hallowe’en and have a weekend of horror starting with old black and white ones like Boris Karloff in Frankenstein and ending up later in the evening with something like The Exorcist.”