Past staff help bring down the curtain on Llanelli Entertainment Centre
AFTER more than seven decades, the curtains have finally closed and the reels turned for the last time at Llanelli Entertainment Centre.
Projectionists past and present gathered at the cinema to mark the end of an era as the last film was screened 74 years after the building's doors were opened.
Not only did the evening give former staff a chance to wander around their old haunt, but the opportunity to bid farewell to traditional printed film shows in the town.
The new Odeon cinema opening at East Gate next month will not feature projection booths with films on reels, but will be fully digital and automated — eliminating the need for projectionists completely.
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And for former senior projectionist Dave Hurford, the cinema's longest-serving projectionist, returning to start up the reel for The Expendables 2 turned out to be a very nostalgic evening.
"It was nice to relive the old memories," he said. "The sounds and smells of the old machines, which you can't emulate with new technology.
"It was the end of an era and it was nice to see a format which has lasted for so many years.
"It was the last film and it's amazing to think how many people have come through the doors, how many relationships have been struck there, how many good times and bad times have been had in that building.
"There is so much history attached to that place and it has been a part of the town's history."
Also attending was Viv Thomas, an engineer who had been on the installation team when the long-serving Westrex projectors were installed back in 1971.
Mr Thomas, who later had a career as technical manager with UCI Cinemas, was delighted to see his work still in use, and saw their longevity more than 40 years later as a testament to the engineering of the era.
Former chief projectionist Alan James visited the venue for the first time since he left in 1995 with his young son Iwan, who described the projectors in action as "amazing".
Also from Mr James's long-serving team were lifelong cinema expert and enthusiast Alan Stephens, who went on to work in senior posts for a variety of cinema chains.
And while outgoing chief projectionist James Taylor- Goddard says he and his team of Alex Kouzov and Dave Atkinson have new opportunities in live theatre to look forward to at Y Ffwrnes, it's still cinema all the way for Iwan Roderick, the venue's final trainee projectionist, who joins the Odeon team in time for its grand opening.