Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 12°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Gallery: Leiston cinema marks 100th anniversary by offering tickets for Dirty Dancing at just 100 pennies

12:16 10 February 2014

Leiston  Film Theatre manager Wayne Burns in front of the original film screen from 1914.

Leiston Film Theatre manager Wayne Burns in front of the original film screen from 1914.

It has entertained generations of cinema goers – lifting spirits through two world wars and keeping up with recent revolutions in big screen technology.

shares
Leiston  Film Theatre manager Wayne Burns in front of the original film screen from 1914.Leiston Film Theatre manager Wayne Burns in front of the original film screen from 1914.

Now, Leiston Film Theatre is marking its centenary in appropriate style by putting on a programme of pictures for a humble pound.

The county’s oldest purpose-built independent cinema will be charging just 100 pennies for tickets to a selection of upcoming screenings as part of ongoing celebrations marking its 100th year.

One of the highlights is set to be a presentation of Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 silent classic The Kid on Sunday, March 16 – a nostalgic tribute to the early days of Leiston Picture House, which opened its doors in October 1914 against the backdrop of the First World War.

The Kid was Chaplin’s first full-length feature film – written, produced, directed by and starring the silent movie icon, whose grandparents lived in Ipswich before the family moved to London during the middle of the 19th century. Chaplin also has family links with Great Finborough, near Stowmarket.

To add to the nostalgia, the theatre has enlisted the services of Suffolk concert organist Tom Horton, providing live musical accompaniment throughout the film, which will be projected on to the original 1914 Leiston Picture House screen.

Manager Wayne Burns, who has written a book on the history of the theatre, entitled Spilling the Popcorn, said: “This is an opportunity for film fans of all ages to not only enjoy this wonderful cinematic experience, but also to appreciate the venue’s history – that Leiston Picture House opened in the very same year that Charlie Chaplin made his big screen debut.”

The event, sponsored by Leiston Press, is just one of 100 special events and promotions to celebrate 100 years of entertainment.

The ‘100 pennies for 100 years’ season starts on Valentine’s night with a screening of Dirty Dancing, followed by half-term Matinee Madness from February 14-21, with Wayne Burns’ Magical Funtime Show on the Wednesday, between 11am and 1pm.

On Tuesday, March 4, cinema-goers can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a pancake for £1 from 10am-1pm, with proceeds going to the Leiston Film Theatre Support Club.

The Last Projectionist will be screened on Sunday, March 23, with Britain’s ‘oldest’ projectionist, Aldeburgh cinema’s Neville Parry, conducting an informal question and answer session after the 3pm showing. Again, all seats are £1.

Among the events planned for April are a live dance extravaganza, and the unveiling of new premier and authentic ‘cuddle seats’.

Full centenary programme details are available on leistonfilmtheatre.co.uk. Tickets available online or via the box office on 01728 830549.

Leiston Picture House’s 100 years

Leiston Picture House was the brainchild of Frank Walker, a senior engineer at Richard Garrett and Sons, who wanted to build “an entertainment centre for east Suffolk.”

It opened on Tuesday, October 27, 1914 – two weeks later than originally planned – at a total cost of £3,057.8s.

In 1914, the cinema had seating for 700, including luxurious seats at the rear, standard seating in the centre and wooden benches, known as the ‘cheap seats’, at the front. At present, the venue has 300 seats.

The first film screened was Wanted a House, a Keystone film accompanied by resident pianist Mr Leslie Tolhurst.

Manager William S Hammick ran the Picture House from 1915 until 1945. During the First World War, company directors applied to the local tribunal for Hammick to be exempt from military service, as the cinema was considered vital for boosting public morale.

During the Second World War, soldiers were permitted to perch on sandbags in the aisles when all the seats had been sold.

In 1974, following a national decline in attendances, the cinema was offered for sale. Facing closure, it was only saved when Leiston Town Council bought the building two years later for £12,500.

In 1983, the town council renamed the cinema as Leiston Film Theatre, to reflect its versatility in presenting films and live shows.

In 1988, it received a grant of £50,000 from the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) for a 35mm projector and Dolby sound equipment.

Wayne Burns took over as manager in 1994, following the retirement of Peter Free, whose father was the cinema’s projectionist from 1916-1957.

Leiston Film Theatre Support Club was formed in 1992. In the past 10 years, supporters have raised in excess of £140,000 to keep the cinema open.

In 2001, the auditorium underwent a major transformation. In 2010, the theatre was installed with the latest digital projection equipment and 3D technology. See our gallery top right for images of the Picture House in days gone by.

shares

0 comments

Town players Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse visited The Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley on Thursday 27 August and officially named the charity’s newest male foal as Bluey. 

The naming of the male foal comes as part of a new partnership between the Football Club and the Suffolk Punch charity. Ipswich Town will be working to support the work of the rare horse breed charity by offering assistance with fundraising and awareness campaigns.
L-R Luke Chambers,Bluey,Cole Skuse,Rob Lambert and Alex Bailey.

Everybody, meet Bluey - the newest addition to the team at the Suffolk Punch Trust, officially named by Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers and player Cole Skuse yesterday.

Suffolk has gone up 22 places in the league table for pupils achieving expected standards in reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 2.

Results for 11-year-olds in Suffolk are improving, according to the latest SATS results which show the county moving up national league tables.

An artist's impression of the new Felixstowe Pier.

Community leaders expressed sadness and regret as they approved scaled-down plans for a new Felixstowe pier.

Avro Vulcan XH558 at the Clacton Air Show.

The eyes of Britain were on Clacton yesterday as it hosted the first major air show since last weekend’s Shoreham disaster – and organisers hailed the first day of the event as a huge success.

Vulcan makes last trip over Suffolk at RAF Lakenheath.

Today (August 27) marked the last time the iconic Avro Vulcan bomber flew through Suffolk.

Ex-teacher convicted of abusing child

A former remedial school teacher from Suffolk and long-term partner of one of the founders of the Paedophile Information Exchange has been found guilty of molesting an 11-year-old boy, it can be revealed.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was called out to a car blaze.

Firefighters were called out to a car blaze in Ipswich tonight.

Police have closed the road.

Police, fire and ambulance crews attended the scene of a three-vehicle crash on the Barnby bends in Beccles.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

A young woman was assaulted while running in a woodland area off Quilter Drive in Ipswich.

Armed officers and the police helicopter were called to the scene of the incident in Sycamore Close at 3.30pm.

A 29-year-old man has been arrested after an axe was brandished at bailiffs who were attempting to execute a warrant in Pinewood.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages