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Petition launched calling 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 hoping to save a huge frieze which used to front a Doncaster cinema have launched a petition calling for it to be saved and displayed in the town after it was found lying in a graveyard.

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

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 and it has just been dumped in Rosehill Crematorium.

"It's the work of Newbury Abbot Trent, the famous sculptor, and depicted the story of film, from its conception, the writing of the scenario, the building of the set and the shooting of the film."

The cinema was demolished in 2008.

The cinema was demolished in 2008.

The cinema, which was also ran by national chain Odeon, was demolished in 2008 and was due to be turned into a casino after developer Lazarus Properties was granted planning permission.

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."

Damian Allen, director for people at Doncaster Council, said: “We recognise the historical importance of the Gaumont Frieze to Doncaster and we are making plans to have this moved and stored at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, pending investigation into how best to look after it. We envisage that this will be done in the coming weeks.”

For more information or to sign the petition, which has already been signed by more than 650 people, visit www.tinyurl.com/cinemapetition.