EPP Extension – Screen Two Gallery Opens

Southwold’s Electric Picture Palace Extension is now completed.


2012 is an important year for the 1,000 member Southwold Film Society. It is the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Electric Picture Palace building in 2002. It is also the centenary of the original Electric Picture Palace which began showing black and white silent films in the summer of 1912 nearby in York Road. Michael Palin, who opened the original building in May 2002, has very kindly agreed to come back and open the Extension.  In 2009 the Film Society was able to buy the next-door-but-two garage along from the cinema and eventually, after 10 months of negotiation during 2010, to swap that for the one next door.  With the kind co-operation of our neighbours, Nigel and Judi Johnson, we have been able to move the accessway to 2 York Road, from its position between the cinema and the garage, to the far right hand side of it, enabling us to make a direct connection from the existing building into the extension.

The Electric Picture Palace is owned by the Southwold Film Society, a charitable trust which promotes interest in film and cinema, running four seasons of films each year, about 90 screenings, plus other private shows and weddings.


The main benefit is that we have been able to create a much larger Foyer space. This will be very useful especially in the winter months when it is too cold or wet to avoid the Interval crush by going outside. There are now two ground floor toilets. The Kiosk benefits from a larger counter and there is an extra fridge and freezer for ice cream. The new space will also double as a small Gallery for exhibitions, and as a Screening Room (“Screen Two”) for film selection screenings etc. There is a tiny Kitchen enabling the space to become Café Paradiso during the recent Ealing Film Festival. The walls are lined with mirrors over which mahogany panels can be slid to provide exhibition surface. Upstairs is an Office and an Archive space to house the Society’s films, DVDs and equipment including a stock of old projectors and magic lantern slides. A new “Royal Box” has been installed in the Circle, bringing the seating capacity up to 70. A miniature Animation Studio will also be included in which we will be encouraging local young people to make stop-frame films


The cost of the extensionis around £110,000. It cost £56,000 to acquire the garage and arrange the exchange, with the work costing about the same. The money has come from revenue surpluses, two grants from the John Gilpin Trust, and fundraising from sales of twelve Film Quizzes devised by trustee Charlotte Clark, and of the Southwold DVD film we initiated and wrote, called “Southwold – Having a Wonderful Time”. The works have been undertaken at cost by local builders Duncan & Son incorporating joinery  made by Donald Price. External decorations were by English and Shepard, the electrical work by DMR. The complicated internal decorating has been undertaken on a voluntary basis by Jane and Rosie Bennett with help from Trevor and Sheena Kelsall. The building was designed, without fee, by John Bennett RIBA.