'The beginning of a new era': Rebrand for Northampton Jesus Centre with The Deco theatre

The Jesus Centre on Abington Street
The Jesus Centre on Abington Street

The Jesus Centre in Northampton is getting a rebrand with visitors to The Deco theatre soon able to enter through the main doors once again.

The iconic building will be changed to 'The Old Savoy' - harking back to its original name from when it opened in 1936 as a cinema, The Savoy.

How the Jesus Centre will look once it has been changed to 'The Old Savoy'. Photo: Stage Right Productions

How the Jesus Centre will look once it has been changed to 'The Old Savoy'. Photo: Stage Right Productions

Meanwhile The Deco, which was the original cinema but is now separate to the Jesus Centre community hub, will be changed to 'The Deco at the Old Savoy'.

Stage Right Productions, which has been running The Deco since 2009, will take over the auditorium management and hires.

But the Jesus Centres Trust - the charity arm of the disgraced Jesus Fellowship Church, known as the Jesus Army - will continue to manage and use the building.

The Deco manager Jill Roach said: “When we open the famous front doors for the first time for a show, it will be the beginning of a new era for this fantastic building.

The Savoy when it first opened. Photo: Stage Right Productions

The Savoy when it first opened. Photo: Stage Right Productions

“This is a wonderful opportunity, and it will take us to a new level in terms of what we can deliver, and offer to, our audiences - we are aiming to have everything in place in time for panto in December.”

The Abington Street building opened to the public as a 'super-cinema' on May 2, 1936, before becoming the ABC Cinema in 1961, which famously hosted The Beatles twice and The Rolling Stones.

The building, owned by Northampton Borough Council, was taken over by Cannon in the 1980s, which ran it as a multiplex cinema until 1996, when it was abandoned.

The Jesus Army Foundation acquired the lease in 2000 and restored the building under the guidance of English Heritage, with donations from the Jesus Army, opening in 2004.

How the Jesus Centre looked back in the 1960s when it was ABC Cinema. Photo: Stage Right Productions

How the Jesus Centre looked back in the 1960s when it was ABC Cinema. Photo: Stage Right Productions

From then until recently it has operated as a hiring space for many agencies and community hub, something Stage Right Productions wants to expand on.

Jill said: “We feel that this is going to be a really popular development for Northampton town centre.

“When we celebrated 80 years of the building in 2016 so many people spoke fondly about it, and shared lovely memories of days gone by, and this sentiment was echoed by visitors to our recent heritage days.

“When we dropped hints about our plans, the response from visitors was not only very positive, but extremely enthusiastic, and we want this wonderful entertainment venue to stand proud and tall in the town as it did for many years.”

The Beatles played at ABC Cinema twice in the 1960s. Photo: Stage Right Productions

The Beatles played at ABC Cinema twice in the 1960s. Photo: Stage Right Productions