47-49 Station Street,
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The Electric (Official)
Styles: Art Nouveau
Previous Names: Electric Theatre, Select Cinema, Tatler News Theatre, Jacey Cartoon Cinema, Jacey Film Theatre, Tivoli Cinema, Cannon
News About This Theater
The Electric Theatre was opened as a cinema on 27th December 1909 in the centre of the city and has been showing movies almost ever since. Is the Electric Cinema the oldest working cinema in Great Britain? At the moment it seems it is, by just a few months. It was designed by noted ‘live’ theatre architect Bertie Crewe.
In 1921 it was re-named Select Cinema and was operated by C.D. Cinemas Ltd. On 20th March 1937 it changed its name again and became the 385-seat Tatler News Theatre, and had been given a new façade designed by architect Cecil E.M. Fillmore. It was equipped with a British Thomson-Houston(BTH) sound system. In the 1950’s another name change to the Jacey Cartoon Cinema.
During the 1960’s the cinemas programming policy and name changed to the Jacey Film Theatre and specialised in showing “continental” (pornographic) films. In the 1970’s the old Electric became part of the Classic chain of cinemas and maintained its “continental” film programme. It was at this time that a second screen seating 78 was added.
In the 1980’s under a change of ownership and another change of name it became known as the Tivoli Cinema. Another change of ownership in 1993 brought about another change of name, however, this time back to the Electric Cinema and operating as an independent, second run, cinema.
The company owning the Electric Cinema went into liquidation in December 2003. The last film shown was “Kill Bill”. The property was put up for sale but, because of a Preservation Order, the Electric’s destruction was prevented. Because of the Order it couldn’t be converted into offices or apartments.
In the summer of 2004 the lease of the Electric Cinema was sold, the new owner’s intention being to use it as a recording studio. However, the new owners became so enamoured of the building it was decided the interior be restored, the old features being retained, but with the technical innovations of the 21st century installed. It had a total seating capacity of 372 in the two screens.
The twist at the end of the tale is that UGC’s Arcadian Multiplex nearby closed in 2003.
The Electric Cinema was closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to its 88-year lease about to expire, it was announced in May 2021 that the closure would be permanent.
In November 2021 it was taken over by Kevin Markwick who operates the Picture House, Uckfield, East Sussex. Following refurbishment it reopened on 21st January 2022 with Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” & Bradley Cooper in “Nightmare Alley”. The Electric Cinema is equipped with 35mm projectors to screen classic films. The seating capacity has been reduced to 189: (109-seats in screen 1 & 80-seats in screen 2).
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