The Electric Palace

The Electric Palace cinema, Harwich, is one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas to survive complete with its silent screen, original projection room and ornamental frontage still relatively intact. Other interesting features include an open plan entrance lobby complete with paybox, and a small stage plus dressing rooms although the latter are now unusable. There is also a former gas powered generator engine with a 7 foot fly wheel situated in the basement.

The cinema was built in 18 weeks at a cost of £1,500 and opened on Wednesday, November 29th, 1911, the first film being The Battle of Trafalgar and The Death of Nelson. The creator of the Palace was Charles Thurston, a traveling showman well known in East Anglia, and the architect was Harold Hooper, a dynamic young man of 25 years who demonstrated his imaginative flair with this his first major building. Charles Thurston built his first cinema the Electric Palace in Harwich in 1911. In 1913, he built two more cinemas, the Empire Cinema in Biggleswade and the Palace Cinema in Norwich.

The cinema closed in 1956 after 45 years interrupted only by the 1953 floods and was listed as a building of sociological interest in September 1972 and is now a Grade II* listed building. It re-opened in 1981 and now runs as a community cinema showing films every weekend and special live and music events.

Visit the Electric Palace’s website:

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