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Six-figure cash windfall for Electric Palace Theatre hailed as "brilliant news" by Harwich mayor

PUBLISHED: 19:27 19 April 2018

Harwich Mayor John Brown outside the Electric Palace Cinema, which has just received a major cash boost of £653,000.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Harwich Mayor John Brown outside the Electric Palace Cinema, which has just received a major cash boost of £653,000. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A £650,000 boost to help renovate one of Britain's oldest surviving purpose-built cinemas in Harwich has been hailed as "brilliant news" by the town's mayor.

Inside the Electric Palace Cinema, Harwich. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTSInside the Electric Palace Cinema, Harwich. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTS

The restoration project of the Electic Palace Cinema has been awarded a huge £653,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Ipswich-based architects Nicolas Jacob Architects will start work on the historic venue - which boasts a silent screen and original projection room - in June.

Harwich mayor John Brown said: “It’s brilliant news. It has come about from the volunteers and customers who keep it alive.

“It’s particularly special for my wife and I - we raise money for different causes and part of that has included the Electric Palace.”

Harwich Mayor John Brown and Mayoress Carol Brown outside the Electric Palace Cinema.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNHarwich Mayor John Brown and Mayoress Carol Brown outside the Electric Palace Cinema. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The cinema is a cultural fixture of the seaside town, and has attracted the support of actor Clive Owen, who owns a home in nearby Wrabness and has twice backed campaigns to rejuvenate the Electrice Palace.

Mr Brown added: “It is not just films it’s used for, it’s events and meetings as well. Given the amount of people who use it in the town, it’s great for business.”

The announcement is a huge boost to a town, with the theatre having faced its fair share of challenges since its opening in 1911, including being left derelict for 16 years following its closure in 1956.

In 2006, a campaign to fund urgent repairs to the theatre costing £85,000 was launched and in 2010 the cinema raised funds for a new digital facility with crisper picture quality and sharper sound.

Shaun Soares and Nick Jacob. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTSShaun Soares and Nick Jacob. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTS

David Looser, chairman of the Electric Palace Trust, said the lottery funding would allow the trustees to undertake essential conservation work to strengthen the ceiling of the building, refurbish the seats and toilets, redecorate the auditorium and enhance security.

Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin called the grant was “a terrific achievement”.

He said: “This announcement secures this historic asset as part of Harwich’s unique heritage for generations to come.

“There is huge potential to increase footfall in the shops and businesses and the restaurants and bars in the area.

Electric Palace Cinema in Harwich, Essex. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTSElectric Palace Cinema in Harwich, Essex. Picture: NICHOLAS JACOB ARCHITECTS

“Everyone should be extremely grateful for the efforts of the mayor and volunteers who made this grant possible.”

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