A DATE for the grand re-opening of one of the country’s oldest cinemas has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Electric Palace Cinema, in King’s Quay Street, Harwich, has been undergoing a £750,000 renovation project to prevent the building’s ceiling from collapsing.

The project is now weeks away from completion after two years of restoration work.

The cinema has benefitted from £500,000 in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as well as public donations.

It was originally closed for the repair work in May 2018 - with work expected to take about six months.

But last January the project ground to a halt as asbestos was discovered.

Historic England then put the cinema on the Heritage at Risk Register and money was obtained to fund the £650,000 removal of the asbestos.

The cinema then launched a fundraising page to secure a further £50,000 to complete the project.


The venue was due to re-open to the public this summer but due to the coronavirus crisis, it has now been put back for months.

David Looser, chairman of the trustees at the Electric Palace, said: “Most of the refurbishment work is now complete but there are still some loose ends that need to be finished off, so we expecting the hand-back from the contractors in three weeks.

“After that there will be a period of time of several weeks when we re-install all the equipment that was removed before the work started and remind ourselves how to use it.

“So if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 situation we would be thinking of re-opening in August.

“However, because of Covid-19 we will probably need to delay until the situation improves.”

He said he would like the cinema’s patron, Hollywood actor Clive Owen, to attend the re-opening if he is available.

Mr Looser added: “We expect to open this year but maybe not until November.”

The Grade II Listed cinema first opened in 1911.

It was the partial collapse of the Apollo Theatre’s roof in London in 2013 which triggered the renovation.

The auditorium, stage and toilets have also been renovated as part of the project.