Tribute to model maker who created brilliant scale replicas of landmark Leamington cinema building

A former manager of Leamington's landmark cinema has paid tribute to his late friend and model maker who created brilliant scale replicas of the building.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 2:35 pm
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 3:32 pm
Peter Lee's model of the Apollo Cinema in Leamington.

Gary Stevens was the manager of The Apollo Cinema - now the Vue Cinema - in Portand Place East in the 1990s when he first met Peter Lee.

Peter lived in Leamington with his wife Sally for 45 years and he became known by town historians and art fans for his hobby that led to TV and radio interviews, a DVD of his work, and the visit of a film company all the way from Los Angeles.

He died on Wednesday (March 3) at the age of 95.

Peter Lee's model of The Regal Cinema in Leamington on display at Leamington Art Gallery and Museum.

The collection of models he created included the Regal Cinema and its update, The Apollo.

Gary said: “Peter came to see me when I was manager of what was then The Apollo Cinema.

"He asked if he could create a model of the cinema when it was just a single screen.

"That liaison led to many years of Peter’s involvement of creating further models of the various changes that occurred with the cinema.

Peter Lee and his wife Sally on the roof of the Apollo Cinema in Leamington.

"I never lost touch with him, even after I left the area.

"I only have fond memories of Peter who throughout his life cared for the history of the cinema in Leamington.

"He was a true gentleman, one of a kind.

"I will certainly miss his wisdom, his passion and the time he took to always chat with me on a Sunday over so many things but always our conversations would flip back to cinema at some point."

Peter Lee (left) with former Leamington cinema manager Gary Stevens and his assistant manager Sylvia Cleary.

"When he left school he worked in an architect’s office for a couple of years before service in the RAF in The Second Word War.

"But it wasn’t until he retired that, assisted by Sally, he really began to specialise in architectural scale models. Painstaking research and attention to detail, photographing and measuring every aspect of a building, its setting and its contents, followed by meticulous construction of every aspect of the fittings, doors and windows, lighting, furniture and furnishings are what have brought media people from far and wide to Lillington.

"In their time, the Lees have captured many long-vanished gems, such as Peter’s first model, the Beach Road Bus Station,Weston super Mare, with its manager’s house tucked in on the left, its café, coaches and buses and nearby shops.

"This was followed by the Painswick Post Office, intended originally only as a copy of the frontage, but which became a detailed miniature of the whole house and its contents, displayed at Painswick Victorian Fayre a year after its completion.

"The collection also includes the Regal Cinema, Leamington, and its update, The Apollo, the Coventry Forum cinema, the Coventry Hippodrome, the Suncourt Spa, Scarborough, the Beehive Inn, Wales, the Regal Cinema, Minehead, the Orangery, Charlecote Park set out as a miniature museum of all the models, the Rotunda, Oxford, once famously the home of Vivienne Green’s museum of dolls houses and baby houses, ‘Glendower’, Sally’s childhood home in Bristol, Post Office memorabilia and letterboxes, a Beach Hut with sand and a seagull, and 31/2” gauge models of the LNER Great Northern and GWR 3440 City of Truro steam trains.

"It is a vast and wonderful collection, lovingly constructed and cared for."