An historic Grade II-listed cinema is set to welcome visitors again after extensive repair and restoration work led by us at NJ Architects.
We have worked in partnership with Historic England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund to breathe life back into the 111-year-old Harwich Electric Palace Cinema in Kings Quay Street, Harwich. The scheme involved stabilising the auditorium’s ceiling to prevent the possibility of it collapsing, asbestos removal, repair of the original ornate fibrous plaster ceiling, redecoration of the interior, replacing part of the auditorium floor and refurbishment of the auditorium seating.
Partner Shaun Soanes said: “This has been a real labour of love for everyone involved. This is one of the oldest working cinemas in the UK, which was designed by architect Harold Hooper and was first opened in 1911 by travelling showman Charles Thurston. It is a breath-taking building which simply needed some love, care and attention and has given us enormous pleasure to be part of the team making this incredible venue fit for purpose again.”
The doors of the Palace closed in 1956 but the cinema was then rediscovered in 1972 as a derelict shell. Since then, members of the Electric Palace Trust and volunteers have managed the building, which occupies a significant place in the history of UK cinema architecture.
The Trust were granted funding totalling more than £1.5 million from Historic England, the government’s Culture Recovery Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out necessary repairs but the project hasn’t been plain sailing.
We have been supported in our work by multi-disciplinary construction consultancy Daniel Connal Partnership, based in Colchester and Mixbrow Construction in Needham Market. David Looser, Chair of the Harwich Electric Palace Trust said: “In 2019 the Electric Palace Cinema was part-way through a nine-month project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund when asbestos was identified in the roof void. This discovery brought work to an abrupt halt and left us with a building in a highly vulnerable state. At this point Historic England came to our rescue. They placed the Electric Palace on the Heritage at Risk Register and quickly approved a grant to clear the asbestos, with additional funding support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”
The Electric Palace Cinema opens its doors to audiences once more on 8 April with a screening of The Duke at 7.30pm.
Details about its forthcoming programme of film, theatre, live music, historic tours, traditional cinema skills workshops and more are at www.electricpalace.com