The 1930s were the heyday of the movies. It was in 1936 that Wimborne acquired its own cinema in the form of the Art Deco Tivoli in West Borough.
Before that date, other buildings in the town had been used for showing films, including the Masonic Hall in the Cornmarket and the Victoria Hall.
The projectionist for some of those films was Mr A S Prince. He saw the commercial opportunity and built the Tivoli. It was designed as a theatre as well as a cinema. It had a stage and orchestra pit but no dressing rooms and only a limited capacity to ‘fly in’ scenery.
The property Mr Prince bought, on which to build his cinema, was Borough House, a Georgian townhouse. It’s garden was sacrificed to create the Art Deco auditorium. However the elegant building frontage was preserved and still survives as a listed structure.
Like virtually every other small-town cinema, the original Tivoli was killed off by television. Its audiences dwindled and it closed in 1979. It was empty for the next ten years, and due to be demolished. It had a number of short term uses. What is now the coffee shop was a gunsmiths, and shot-marks on the rear wall . He also show how the theatre was used as a testing range at that time.
In the early 1990s, a prominent Wimborne businessman and former Mayor, Malcolm Angel, formed the Friends of the Tivoli. His intention was to raise awareness of the building’s potential. He also raised funds for its preservation and, if possible, its re-opening. By this time the building was in a pretty dreadful state. It had holes in the roof and fungus growing on the interior walls.
Another life in 1993
On 23 November 1993 the Tivoli re-opened to bring films and live theatre to the people of Wimborne again.
The Tivoli relies on its supporters and box office receipts to keep running…. most of the in house work is undertaken by a dedicated team of wonderful volunteers.