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Ashford: First glimpse of Elwick Place Picturehouse cinema as statue to Queen Marie of Romania is unveiled

By Charlie Harman

New pictures show how a six-screen cinema which will finally open at the weekend looks inside.

Film lovers will be able to go to the Picturehouse cinema in Ashford for the first time on Saturday.

But KentOnline got a sneak peek inside today - with pictures showing the foyer and new red seats.

Inside one of the film auditoriums
Inside one of the film auditoriums

The cinema will form part of the £75m Elwick Place leisure complex, which also features a Travelodge hotel.

Three screens will be able to show 3D films and it will be the first Picturehouse cinema to have a laser projector, with 35 members of staff running the site.

In 2012, Cineworld - which already has a cinema on the Eureka Leisure Park - snapped up the Picturehouse chain in a deal worth £47.3m.

Gallery1

Click to view

A neon Picturehouse sign and a grand light fitting welcome visitors to Elwick Place (5972324) Picturehouse's lobby features "My Very Best Jumper, a Snowdog designed by Steff Malone (5971967) Guests assembled inside the development after the unveiling (5972321) Elwick Place's spacious lobby (5972289) The hallway floors are covered with red carpet (5972287) Tobias Butler and Louise Johnson welcome guests to the screening on their first day working at the cinema (5971885) The cinema offers extra wide chairs amid the banks of seating (5971894) Inside one of the film auditoriums

Earlier today, guests at the unveiling of a Romanian monarch's statue were given the first look inside the cinema.

HRH Princess Helen of Romania visited the town to unwrap the statue of her great-grandmother, Queen Marie, who was born in nearby Eastwell Manor.

Joined by Dr Liliana Turoiu, President of the Romanian Cultural Institute, the royal praised Ashford Borough Council for their close co-operation on the project and welcomed a new era of friendship between the East European country and the town.

Leader of the Council Cllr Gerry Clarkson thanked the princess for coming and excitedly proclaimed the statue's unveiling as "a fitting prelude" to the opening of Elwick Place this weekend.

He said: "This statue, which is in a prominent location in the very heart of town, will be the focus of future generations who will learn more about this most remarkable woman.

How the new cinema looks from the outside
How the new cinema looks from the outside

"Ashford clearly is an international town, we are on the High Speed 1 line meaning Paris and Marseilles are on our doorstep, and it just doesn't make sense to not be the international town. I can't think of another town that can claim that title."

Cllr Clarkson also welcomed the opportunity to look around the £75 million project which will welcome guests for the first time on Saturday - a week later than planned due to a faulty cable under the site.

He said: "How impressive is it already? And it's not yet quite finished.

"Everyone from the engineers to the workers here have been working tirelessly, even into the night, to get it finished on time.

The statue of Queen Marie, who was born in nearby Eastwell Manor, was unveiled today
The statue of Queen Marie, who was born in nearby Eastwell Manor, was unveiled today

"They've done sterling work and I can do enough but applaud them, it's looking fantastic already. Just look at this auditorium, it's delightful."

The post-unveiling reception, held in the cinema's foyer, marked the first time the public has seen inside the new cinema.

Guests were invited to attend the first screening in the complex - the premiere of a film commemorating the life of Queen Marie, who rose to international prominence due to her altruistic efforts in the First World War.

Mayor of Ashford Cllr Jessamy Blanford also said that "co-operation between the two countries would be something we can all look forward to".

HRH Princess Helen of Romania
HRH Princess Helen of Romania

She said: "We're very excited for the opening of Elwick Place. I hope everyone will come to the cinema and watch films here.

"There's a very lovely lobby and reception area and I'm sure people will enjoy coming to the cinema here.

"Ashford's got some marvellous old buildings - but at the same time this is a modern time government has said we have to grow bigger and that's what we want to do.

"But we want to offer real opportunities for people who live here and therefore you need exciting, new buildings and Picturehouse is certainly one of them."

The Elwick Place development will open to the public at 10am on Saturday.

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