A worthy winner of this week’s Trader of the Week title is the much-loved Plaza Cinema in Dorchester.

It’s open again and is welcoming film fans back to a socially distanced four screen cinema with measures in place to keep everyone safe.

Opened in 1933, the art deco building – allegedly built from 285,000 bricks by local firm Watts Bros – was a popular addition to the county town.

Dorset Echo:

Now part of the Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company, the Plaza shows the latest movies, at a reasonable price, in traditional surroundings Cinema manager Alan Escott said the cinema stands out from its competitors because it prides itself ‘on making cinema affordable for everyone.’ You can see a film at the Plaza for £3.50.

Alan said: “Our staff are really friendly and welcoming. We have a warm and welcoming team who are ready to great you with a smile. We also love being part of the community.”

The Dorset Echo is backing local businesses as they get going again after the coronavirus crisis.

If you wish to be considered for Trader of the Week, access a nomination form here

Live events screened at the Plaza are also extremely popular, with full houses for prestigious ballets, operas and National Theatre plays.

Alan said it is a ‘fantastic feeling’ to be Trader of the Week.

He said: “We love being recognised by the local community. We are proud to be part of the town and have such amazing and loyal customers.

“They keep coming back because we offer great ticket prices all the time. We have done this since the cinema was taken over by managing director Adam Cunard in 2008/09.

“Our cinema has a fantastic atmosphere and has been lovingly restored to showcase some of our traditional features, such as the original 1930s light fittings in Screen 1.”

Dorset Echo:

When the Plaza opened in 1933, its arrival was greeted with congratulatory telegrams from Gracie Fields and Ivor Novello among others.

King Kong was the first film screened and the swashbuckling matinee idol Douglas Fairbanks was an early visitor. The cinema survived the Second World War – when a bomb fell just outside it in Trinity Street.

The cinema tries to support local manufacturers with its food and drink offerings.

Alan said: “Of course we have the usual cinema staples of freshly warmed popcorn and nachos but we also stock Dorset tea and ciders from Purbeck Cider Company.”

Dorset Echo:

The endurance of this unique cinema at this difficult time comes down to its loyal customers.

Alan said: “We survive on our loyal customers. Our aim is to be the hub of the community and are happy to support a number of local charities.

“Like every business we are going through unprecedented times. This is the toughest challenge the cinema industry has faced in its history.

“Getting people back to cinemas will be key over the coming months.”