“I do have memories of Astoria…”

It’s Thursday, and I’m heading out the back-entrance of Astoria House into the staff carpark as usual– but it’s a little different this time. 

I pause as the automatic doors open for a moment and think about Chris and the other Coventry youngsters who once frequented this spot. 

Chris spent his childhood in Coventry. He went to school in Earlsdon and remembers Earlsdon High Street back in the day you could go and get your “clothes fitted.”

You might wonder how we know Chris. It’s a funny story really. Earlier this year Nexus ICA’s Fundraising Coordinator, Dewi Thomas, was doing some work at the front of our building. It was there he met Chris. Being new to Nexus ICA, I’ve been told it’s not unusual to meet members of the public who stop by Astoria, or even pop into reception for a chat. This was one of those occasions. 

Chris remembered Astoria. Not the home of Nexus ICA we know today – but the Astoria.  Astoria Cinema. He remembered the long steep steps which flowed down to meet the path below. Another feature which has changed over the decades.

It’s been 100 years since Astoria House first opened its doors as a cinema. 

I’ve written this line a lot recently. 

It’s so easy to get used to the grandeur of 100 years and forget the decades of living, breathing human and cinematic stories and moments which have unfurled here. 

Dewi met Chris outside of Astoria House in September 2022. 

25 years ago, Nexus ICA was established and since then hundreds of students have come to Coventry and learned who they were created to be as gifted musicians and disciples of Jesus. 

Chris met his friends at Astoria to watch films many years before. 

**

“I do have memories of Astoria…” the voicemail starts. 

Having met Dewi, Chris was contacted by Archie (our Social Media Administrator) to ask if he’d be happy to share his memories of Astoria with us. The result was a three-minute voicemail which we listened to at the reception desks. Chris’ memories of Astoria now filled the vast entrance room which he had once walked through – often on Saturday mornings – to watch the latest kids’ films.  

“I do have memories of Astoria … of the days’ films and also Saturday mornings where as youngsters we all crept in […] the rest of us came in through the rear entrance fire doors when the film started…sneak in and sat on the floor down the front.”

**

This takes me back to where I am now. 

I am stood at the back entrance, about to get in my car and drive down Albany Road and past Astoria’s frontage which has “changed greatly” since Chris’ younger years. 

I am off to meet Chris and chat about Nexus ICA’s Centenary Cinema Celebration and take his photo for this article. 

Dewi, Archie and I have all been connected to Chris because of Astoria’s history, and now so have you. 

Behind every milestone – whether 100 years or 25 – there are many stories. Today was Chris’ story, what about yours? 

Comment with your memories of Astoria House and Nexus ICA and join us this Sunday 6 November at our Centenary Cinema Celebration. We’ll be marking 100 years of Astoria house by reopening our building as a cinema for the day. 

It’s certainly worth celebrating.