The Queen's is dead, long live the Queen's. Well, at least parts of it. The 96-year-old Queen's Theatre closed last September ahead of plans to demolish the old Luk Hoi Tong Building that it occupied to make way a new office block. But the cinema's legacy lives on in Sai Wan Ho, a 30-minute bus ride away from the cinema's original lodgings on Theatre Lane in Central. It's on the ground floor of the Hong Kong Film Archive that one of Queen's Theatre's film projectors now rests, the last relic of one of the most revered cinemas in Hong Kong. The Ashcraft carbon arc-lamp projector dates back to the 1960s, making it the cornerstone of operations in the cinema's last incarnation in Luk Hoi Tong Building. The Queen's has existed in various guises since 1911 and moved to its last home when the building was completed in 1961. The projector was used to screen Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest classics from the 1960s to the 80s. It's one of the few items that staff from the Film Archive managed to salvage when the Queen's closed last year, but it's a coup nevertheless, says the archive's head, Richie Lam Kok-sing. 'What makes the acquisition special is how the piece comes in its entirety and is still in perfect working condition,' he says. 'We've seen similar projectors in [the now defunct] Yau Ma Tei Theatre in the past, but they were in a really bad state. This one is quite spotless - the peripherals are all here, including the water-tank cooler and the transformer.' The projector was used up until the day the Queen's closed, though only for commercials before screenings. Lam says the owners were 'very, very generous' in donating the Ashcraft machine to the archive, as 'it's an antique and it could fetch them quite a bit of money if they were to put it on the market'. They also agreed to donate several of its leather seats - considered the swankiest in town during the 1960s - to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. But that's all museum curators could retrieve from the site. Winnie Fu Wai-yee, the archive's programmer, says many of the seats are probably dispersed among the homes of the cinema's owners and their relatives and friends. Most of the theatre's fittings had probably been knocked down and taken to landfills, she says. In recent years many local cinemas have closed their doors, but it's been difficult for archivists to retain crucial elements of Hong Kong's cultural history. 'For them, cinemas are just businesses - most of them don't care whether they are to leave anything from the cinemas for posterity,' says Fu. 'We really had to plead with operators to donate things to the archive. Sometimes we even have to let them know that the archive exists. It's all about us taking the initiative to pin them down ... people hardly ever give us an inventory of what they have and what they would donate. It's all about probing what they can offer.' Lam says the Film Archive is in constant contact with the Hong Kong Theatres Association, which represents local cinema owners, to find out about cinema closures. That is how it learned of the fate of Queen's Theatre in 2006, before rumours begin circulating about its demise last year. The negotiations archivists had with owners of out-of-business movie houses have yielded other results, though they were not as good as the Queen's Theatre find. The archive has a collection of film paraphernalia from closed cinemas, ranging from tickets and seating plans that were used before box-office systems became computerised, to plastic signs and placards denoting screening times and sold-out shows. While these are relics that could reflect in part what the movie-going experience was like a generation or two ago, they are hardly enough to recreate the ambience of Hong Kong's classic single-screen cinemas before modern multiplexes moved in to replace the more intimate practices of a bygone era. The situation betrays how planners were slow to grasp that cinemas - both the buildings and what they contain - are as much a part of Hong Kong's cultural heritage as the films. It's only in the past decade that the public realised theatres are treasured artefacts on their own, as cinephiles and conservationists bemoaned how long-running theatres - from landmarks such as the Lee Theatre in Causeway Bay to specialist institutions like Cine-art in Wan Chai - vanished without leaving a trace in Hong Kong's urban landscape or in its museums. Lam acknowledges this as he mulls over how the archive in Sai Wan Ho, which was completed in 2000, was not built to house the remnants they could scavenge from historic movie houses. 'When plans were made for the film archive [in the 1990s] the aim was to have a professional library of films, and the storage space was designed with that in mind - we just don't have a giant warehouse for big artefacts,' says Lam. Fu says the archive wasn't conceived as a museum. And even if it could find room for large objects there's no space for them to be shown to the public. 'It's difficult for us to take large numbers of these items - if we get 100 seats from a cinema, how are we to keep them or display them?' says Lam. In that sense, the exhibition of the Queen's Theatre projector is more an exception than the norm at the Film Archive - but an important step nevertheless, says Fu. 'We hope that the first thing that grabs people's attention when they step into the archive is a machine that has historical significance in the understanding of Hong Kong's history of filmmaking,' she says, pointing to how the Ashcraft projector is displayed on the ground floor at the archive, beside the lifts which carry visitors to the cinema and the resource centre upstairs. 'We hope students will be brought here and look at this artefact as part of this building, and begin a trip into the history of Hong Kong's film industry.'