There have been two cinemas in Winsford over the years, although films were also shown in the Labour Club building, now Farm Foods, in the 1970s and the old Town Hall and the Strand Ballroom/Nightclub in Winsford Marketplace by the town bridge much earlier.

The first purpose-built cinema was the Magnet, located at the bottom of Weaver Street.

It was built in the 1910s and initially showed the very first silent films.

In the early 1920s, it was owned by Pendleton Pictures, and during the latter 1920s, it was taken over by Richard Smith, proprietor of the Sandbach cinema.

In those days, cinemas were used as theatres for amateur dramatics, and in 1927, there was a showing of 'The Count of Luxembourg', which was an operetta about bohemian life in Paris.

The cinema had to add a stage and reduce the seating to be able to cater for the performances over five nights, requiring increased financial support to enable the event to go ahead.

There were strong links between local cinemas in those days. In March 1936, a young man called Albert Hallows, who was a cinema attendant at the Alhambra Middlewich, was fined 10 shillings for cycling without lights when he was rushing a film to the Magnet in Winsford.

Northwich Guardian: The Magnet cinema, which was at the bottom of Weaver StreetThe Magnet cinema, which was at the bottom of Weaver Street (Image: Rose Hurley)

In 1949, it was reported that the Magnet had been broken into by thieves who gained access to the cash desk by standing on a film canister, appropriately and humorously containing a film called 'A Spotlight on Crime'!

The Magnet was briefly renamed the Ritz cinema when it was bought by Miles Jervis company in 1960, however in 1961 it was acquired by Les Birch of the Palace Cinema who closed it down and sold the building to the Birkenhead Co-operative Society.

They put in a plan to convert it into a supermarket in 1969, which was rejected. Sadly, it never reopened and became a casualty of the construction of the roundabout at the town bridge.

The second Winsford cinema began life as a Drill Hall in 1901 in Dingle Lane.

Northwich Guardian: Winsford Drill Hall, which later became a cinemaWinsford Drill Hall, which later became a cinema (Image: Rose Hurley)

As a result of the Boer War, there was a necessity to recruit and train local young men as soldiers and Winsford was renowned for sending large contingents into battle for the 3rd Volunteer Brigade of the Cheshire Regiment.

In 1914, the Drill Hall was repurposed as the Palace Cinema. In 1922 it was reported that Hibbert Diggle, owner of the Macclesfield 'Super' cinema purchased it and the Castle Cinema, Northwich.

Along with many other cinemas, it was fitted with the Western Electric sound system in 1930.

Northwich Guardian: The Palace as a bingo hallThe Palace as a bingo hall (Image: Rose Hurley)

In 1934, there was a tragic turn of events when a Winsford solicitor, Victor Prout, whose premises were at 62 High Street, was taken to court because he had sold half of the Palace cinema and land to Robert Proudfoot from Warrington.

He then went on to rent the premises out as a whole without advising that he only owned half of it.

He had to provide recognisance (surety) of £200 (over £11,000 today). A week after first appearing in court, Victor went to Colwyn Bay for the day and collapsed and died there. He was declared bankrupt the following year.

In the 1940s, the Palace was managed by Jack Binmore. In 1946, Jack was taken to court because the cinema had not shown its quota of British films and had exceeded its foreign-made films.

Northwich Guardian: The Drill Hall after the fireThe Drill Hall after the fire (Image: Rose Hurley)

In the 1960s, Les Birch was well-known for owning the Palace, and by the 1970s, the Palace had become a Top Ten bingo hall for several years.

Eventually, this closed, and for a time, it remained empty. It was going to be converted to flats until it was severely damaged by fire in February 2021, and now it stands in a derelict state with its fate uncertain.