Former King’s Lynn cinema boss dies

The Majestic Cinema former joint owner  Malcolm Croot.
The Majestic Cinema former joint owner Malcolm Croot.

A former Lynn cinema boss who helped to entertain generations of film fans during a career spanning more than 40 years has died.

Malcolm Croot, who died at the weekend aged 78, ran the Majestic cinema with his business partner, Tony Rowlett, for almost 30 years before they retired in 2003.

Yesterday, Mr Rowlett paid tribute to his friend and former colleague.

He said: “He was a real character. He lived for the film industry. That was his entire life. He just loved it.”

Mr Rowlett also recalled Mr Croot’s determination to recover and return to work after a serious stroke he suffered at the age of 42, which left him fighting for his life, adding: “He had incredible willpower to get over it.”

The pair first went into business together when they took over the old Pilot cinema in the early 1960s and also operated cinemas in Ely and Lowestoft during their careers. Mr Croot also ran a cinema in Huntingdon.

Mr Rowlett said he had first met Mr Croot in 1959 when he helped at the Pilot, which later became Zoots nightclub, in his spare time from working on the family farm at Clenchwarton.

He later got a job in the projectionist’s room before the pair took over the running of the cinema in 1962, after a period when it had been closed.

Mr Rowlett said: “We, being naive, thought we could make a go of it.”

The Pilot remained open until 1981. Elsewhere, the pair took out a lease on the Majestic from then owners EMI in 1975 and bought the building in the early 1980s.

As well as bringing the biggest films of the day to West Norfolk audiences, they also oversaw a major expansion of the cinema in the early 1990s before they sold the site to Paul Jervis in 

The cinema’s current management also paid tribute to Mr Croot yesterday.

A post on its Facebook page said: “The Majestic Cinema is sad to announce that former cinema owner Malcolm Croot has passed away. Our thoughts are with everyone associated to Malcolm.”