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Start-up Loans helps bring Tinseltown back to Tyneside


  • New community cinema to open in Whitley Bay this weekend
  • The town has been without a year-round cinema for more than 10 years
  • All welcome to ‘Open House’ event from 11am until 11pm on Saturday 14 September

A local film fan is set to make history this weekend as he returns the magic of celluloid to a seaside town for the first time in more than a decade.

The Whitley Bay area has been without a year-round cinema since 1999, when the ABC in Monkseaton closed its doors for the final time. But now, thanks to receiving £9,500 from Start-Up Loans North East and Cumbria, Dan Ellis, 24, has transformed a derelict building on Park Avenue in the seaside suburb into the fully soundproofed 42-seat Jam Jar Cinema, reviving an old Tyneside tradition in the process.

Drama and business graduate Mr Ellis, who is the Chairman of the business, explained: “Many of the earliest Tyneside cinemas were based in working men's clubs and some people, especially children, would have paid for their seats with an empty jam jar. The cinema manager would have then taken the empties back to the local shop to claim the deposits back on the glass.”

Mr Ellis, who hails from Whitley Bay, now plans on bringing this tradition back to life as under 18s and over 60s will be able to see selected screenings at Jam Jar Cinema for free if they bring along a jam jar. He will then recycle the jars in and around the cinema and wider community, using them to create decorative light fittings and other items of curio.

Mr Ellis was determined that Jam Jar Cinema should be a community interest company and has used the services of scores of volunteers and local businesses to get the premises ready for this Saturday’s grand opening.

He went on: “The team behind Start-Up Loans has been really supportive and encouraging from day one and as well as the funding, we’ve received incredible opportunities to network and learn more about business, including from none other than Sir Richard Branson himself.”

Mr Ellis was one of three local entrepreneurs to quiz Sir Richard and Paypal founder Elon Musk on an innovative Google + Hangout earlier this year, with a live global audience of 15,000.

He said: “It was such a great opportunity and although it’s hard work, starting my own business has been a great move for me. I can’t wait to open the doors on Saturday.”

Mr Ellis said Jam Jar will have up to 10 screenings a week initially, including the latest blockbusters and classics, as well as the best of locally produced and amateur films of all genres. There will be a film club and master classes as well.

He added: “We eventually hope to have four free after-school films a week to ensure we are family-orientated, like cinema in its heyday, and private hire will also be available for those wishing to celebrate special occasions in a bit of a different way. But we plan to reinvest the profits into community outreach projects to benefit local people."

The Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria is delivered through a consortium including Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loans.

The scheme continues to open doors for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 who have a great business idea. Loans range from £500 to £25,000 with new ‘Lean Start-Up Loans’, of up to £1,000 ,aimed at those who would like to carry out market research before launching, or need a bit of a push to begin trading. With funding still to be awarded in the North East and Cumbria during 2013, successful applicants can benefit from Virgin Money’s mentoring support and Project North East’s many years’ working specifically with young business people.

To find out more about the Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East, as well as the new ‘Lean’ loans and how to apply, young entrepreneurs should visit

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Media Contacts
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Tel: 0191 279 4676


The Start-Up Loans scheme for young entrepreneurs was formally launched at Virgin Money’s Gosforth operational headquarters on Tuesday 20 November 2012.

Virgin Money has partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) to form a consortium in the delivery of ‘Start-Up Loans’ – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), through Start-Up Loans, is providing funding to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria. The initiative is aimed at young entrepreneurs between 18 and 30 years of age. Loan sizes are between £250 and £25,000, with an average of around £5,000.

The consortium also provides a training, mentoring and engagement programme, to enable unemployed young people and young people from the region’s deprived areas to learn how to run a business and to find out more about the Start-Up Loans programme.

PNE is regulated under the Consumer Credit Act and is responsible for making the loans and administering the full lending process. PNE has nearly thirty years experience of successfully undertaking this type of work in the region, partnering organisations such as the Sainsbury family trusts and Royal Dutch Shell. More information about PNE can be found at and information on start-up loans can be found at