Campaign to save the State is on the up

Tanya Coutts

Eager campaigners gathered together outside the State Cinema, Grays, Essex, last weekend to raise awareness of the building's history and the uncertainty of its future.

The response they received from the public was overwhelming with more than 3,000 signatures gathered so far for the Save the State petition. But you can still sign your name online at

The cinema, built in 1938, will be 70 years old this September. It was closed in the 1990s and has been left to fall into disrepair by its current owners TSP Properties.

Several people turned up to hand out leaflets and gather signatures last Saturday, March 15, with campaigners from the 1940s Home Front group and Diving Through Time dressed in period costumes.

Jayne Jones, from Diving Through Time, said:  "The response has been fantastic and there has been lots of interest, much more than I expected and everyone seems to have an opinion or a memory here. Most people want to see something done to this place."

The total number to have signed their name on the petition was at 3,278 after the event and many of those have fond memories of the grade II listed building, especially of first dates, the Compton playing as the projectionist set up the reels and sneaking in the back door to see a film for a discounted price.

Lay, who was a projectionist at the State in 1948, said:  "Despite there not being many people living in the area there was always huge queues right down the road. The State was marvellous in those days, but life was different then."