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Campaign group calls for South Yorkshire's movie history to be marked

The former frieze from the Gaumont cinema is currently lying in the grounds of Rosehill Crematorium. Picture: Ron Curry.
The former frieze from the Gaumont cinema is currently lying in the grounds of Rosehill Crematorium. Picture: Ron Curry.
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Campaigners claim more than 120 years of South Yorkshire's movie history has been dumped in a cemetery after a huge frieze which used to front a cinema in the town has been left lying in a graveyard for almost ten years.

Members of the Cinema Heritage of Doncaster group are hope to save the 33 feet long sculpture, which used to don the front of the former Gaumont Palace, on Hall Gate.

The former Gaumont cinema, Hall Gate, Doncaster.

The former Gaumont cinema, Hall Gate, Doncaster.

The sculptured wall panels depicted the story of film - from its conception by the author, to the writing of the scenario, the building of the set, through to the shooting of the film.

It was removed from the building before it was demolished in 2008 but campaigner Ron Curry, who worked as a projectionist at the cinema, said it had been left in a pile at Rosehill Crematorium.

Mr Curry, who set up the Cinema Heritage of Doncaster group, said: "This is 120 years of Doncaster's history about to be sent to landfill if the frieze is not saved.

"It has just been dumped in Rosehill Crematorium, they've not even covered it up and with all the wet weather it's just going to end getting damaged."

The cinema was demolished in 2008.

The cinema was demolished in 2008.

The cinema, which was also ran by national chain Odeon, was due to be turned into a casino after developer Lazarus Properties was granted planning permisison

But it is currently just a car park, with nothing to mark the town's cinema history.

"It's been nearly ten years since the cinema was demolished but nobody is taking any notice - the issue is just getting put back and back," Mr Curry, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to cinema, said.

"It's out of people's minds - everyone has forgotten about them but we need to bring back into the limelight. This frieze should be on show somewhere."

Nick Stopforth, head of libraries and culture for Doncaster Council, said: “We are delighted that we have the historic Gaumont Frieze and this is currently being protected against the elements in a secure location.

“Our intention is to have this on display in a location in Doncaster, so that those who are interested in seeing it can have easy access to it. A decision has not been made as yet as to where it will be displayed, but once this has been made we will share this so everyone who wants to come and see it can do.”

Lazarus Properties did not respond to a request for comment.