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Source : 26/06/2004 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Stepping on to the stage of Northampton's former Cannon cinema, it's hard to believe you are standing on the same spot where John Lennon and Mick Jagger once performed.

All that's visible of the former 2,000-sear cinema in Abington Square is a sea of scaffolding as builders restore the 68-year-old venue so it can be used by the Jesus Army.

John Campbell, an elder with the Nether Heyford-based religious group, said: 'This building really has got a lot of history. People always talk about The Beatles playing here at the start of their careers but when you think The Stones have played here too, it's amazing.'

Looking around the cinema today the building has clearly suffered since pop stars turned their backs on it.

The cinema stood empty after it closed in 1995 and was attacked by a range of pigeons, vandals and graffiti artists.

The old cinema screen had to be taken down after yobs vandalised it, but fortunately many of the old projection machines survived.

Other alterations inside the building include the creation of a cafe and an area to provide food and washing facilities for the homeless people who the Jesus Army helps.

Mr Campbell said: 'The building had really been allowed to deteriorate. But places, like the entrance, are looking really good now.'

The Jesus Centre is due to open on October 30 and Mr Campbell said he hoped the fact the building was now owned by a religious group would not deter people from visiting.

He added: 'I think there might be some people who are put off, but they have no reason to be. This is going to be very much an open building for people of all faiths.'

'We want to show we can open our hearts to all kinds of people and hopefully everyone will feel at home.'