Imagine a Falmouth-Penryn area with no Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl, but still with a large, single-screen cinema with audience capacity for many hundreds, writes Mike Truscott.
That’s how it was back in 1969, when the first rumblings of major change on the shopping and entertainment circuits were prompting lively public debate.
Pricerite had announced its acquisition of the historic Royal Hotel in Falmouth’s Market Street for development as a new supermarket.
But the real hot potato was a planning application by Classic Cinemas, two months later, for change of use of the former Odeon Theatre by The Moor, which they had bought less than two years earlier, to a supermarket.
The cinema (today’s Tesco) was not making enough money – but the Packet commented: “No holiday resort of any size can afford to be without a cinema during the season; all too often the cry of holidaymakers in Falmouth has been that there is nothing to do in the evenings and nowhere to go when it rains.”
Falmouth Town Council called a special meeting on the issue, with Mayor Norman Fittus describing the cinema as “a very important part of our daily life.”
Councillor Gordon Davey feared Falmouth “could not sustain another supermarket” and suggested the Classic would make "an ideal municipal theatre and conference hall.”
Mr E J Norman, a prolific letter-writer in the Packet, put it this way: “Where does it all end? St George’s Cinema has gone over to a retail arcade, the ABC Theatre has gone over to bingo, and now the Classic Cinema is coming under the eye of the marketeers.
“I suppose the next to follow will be the Polytechnic Hall? We are fast becoming a town of car parks and supermarkets.”