Old Winton Cinema gets funding as community hub

Jonathan Russell in the old auditorium, which was formerly the 'Cuds'. Picture: Jon Savage

Jonathan Russell in the old auditorium, which was formerly the 'Cuds'. Picture: Jon Savage

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An art deco former cinema has cleared a major hurdle for Lottery funding and could now be transformed into a state-of-the-art auditorium, learning centre and cafe.

The three-storey Fraser Centre in Tranent, formerly known as the Winton Cinema, was known locally as the “Cuds” during its heyday from 1921 until its closure in 1972.

The Fraser Christian Centre (FCC) church have been using it for the last 25 years with the Kingdom Outreach Ministries buying it in 1996 which has allowed it to become a hub at the heart of the community since The Fraser Centre Community Trust (FCCT) was formed in 2011.

The Trust, which currently shows around 12 films a month as well as other activities including arts and crafts, dance and curling, will ultimately be looking to buy the building.

The project is being led by 40-year-old, Jonathan Russell, son of FCC minister the Rev Richard Russell, who is also aided by a team of around 25 volunteers from the Christian centre.

“It’s been fantastic just to see the enthusiasm of the volunteer team that we have and that when you come along to our events how friendly everybody is,” Mr Russell explained.

“It’s quite an achievement to get to that stage and now we’re going to sit down with the architects to draw up some plans.”

Mr Russell said the building has had around 4000 users since the start of this year and that the community was fully behind the plans.

“One of the reasons I wanted to set it up was because I have three kids and I know how expensive it is to entertain them,” he added. “We want to make sure we provide something they want and would like to see in the building.”

The Trust does not yet know how much Lottery funding they will receive, but other generous donations so far have included £7000 from the FCC for a new kitchen and funding from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to hire a part-time development manager.

David Orr, 38, who got the job, said he was excited to see the project get started.

“When we have been showing films for the last couple of years we’ve had a lot of people telling us how they used to enjoy coming so it means a lot to the people living here and they want to see it up and running again,” he said.

MSP Iain Gray said the centre was “a real asset to the local community”.

“I hope to see it become established as an important arts and entertainment hub for the town,” he added.