Harwich Electric Palace cinema aims to reopen next year


Harwich Electric Palace

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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Following its closure in 1956, a trust was formed to restore the derelict venue in the 1970s and it reopened in 1981

One of the oldest cinemas in the country is expected to reopen in 2020 after nearly £1m of restoration work – a year later than planned.

Electric Palace in Harwich is having asbestos removed and its roof stabilised, with funding from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project began last April and was hoped to be completed early in 2019.

Trustee Colin Crawford said the work was progressing “quite well” although he did not want to set an end date.

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Electric Palace

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Asbestos has been removed from the roof of the Electric Palace Cinema

Work at the cinema was undertaken over fears for the stability of the roof, following incidents at a theatre in London in 2013, which saw 76 people injured, and at Ipswich’s Regent Theatre in 2011, when no-one was inside.

However, Mr Crawford said the roof was in “remarkably” good condition although stabilising work would be carried out to ensure it remains safe in the future.

He said: “They have removed 80% of the asbestos then the next step will be to stabilise the ceiling by a process which is yet to be decided, possibly a lamination process which will give it a 50-year lifespan.”

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Electric Palace

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Work on the Electric Palace is hoped to finish early next year

While much of the funding has come in grants Mr Crawford said the trustees were appealing for donations and needed to raise about £70,000 for the work.

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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Netting was put in place under the ceiling, in case bits of plasterwork fell off

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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The cinema opened in 1911, before Harwich was on the electricity network, so it was powered by a gas generator

The Electric Palace opened on King’s Quay Street in 1911, closed in 1956 and the Grade II-listed building reopened in 1981.

Mr Crawford said it was the fifth or sixth oldest cinema in the country and an important piece of Harwich heritage.

He said: “We are also going to be doing some special shows for dementia sufferers and autistic people, which we have got some additional funding for.”

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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The building was hit by the 1953 floods, a couple of years before its closure

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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The building (seen here in the 1970s) is on King’s Quay Street and is close to the town’s busy port

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Harwich Electric Palace Trust

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The cinema celebrated its centenary in 2011



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