Electric Palace Cinema

One of the things we suggest for days out in Essex when the weather isn’t at it’s best, is to head to an independent cinema and take in a film as part of the trip. We practiced what we preached yesterday, on a very cold and snowy/sleety Saturday in February. We headed off to Harwich, where it was particularly ‘bracing’ in a way that only the east coast can be.

We got there early to have lunch at The Alma Inn, a characterful pub that serves good beer and great food, and settled down in a snug corner with some newspapers, an Adnams Old Ale, and some traditional, warming, choices from the menu – sausages and mash, and fish and chips as you ask – although we’ve had their seafood on warmer days, and the seafood mezze looked like one to have on another visit. You can even stay the night at the pub, in some very attractive-looking rooms.

The Electric Palace is just a couple of minutes walk from there. We’ve passed by many times on day trips to Harwich, but yesterday, having previously checked our list of independent cinemas in Essex with details of their forthcoming features, we had booked tickets to see La La Land. Having had our booking checked in the tiny little ticket ‘office’ outside, it was through the doors and straight into the cinema itself.

You can read a lot about the history of the cinema on the Electric Palace website – they say it ‘is one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas to survive complete with its silent screen, original projection room and ornamental frontage still relatively intact’ – and see photographs of the state of dereliction that it was in, and the renovation that brought it back to life.

It’s a grand interior, with a gorgeous ceiling, and a big screen at the far end, with rows of traditional seats. There are modern speakers standing upright by the side of the screen, which pack a punch, and the screen was wide enough to show the CinemaScope version of the highly-acclaimed La La Land. The film started in traditional music style, with a massive song and dance number – although the setting, a traffic queue on a motorway, was quite different! The first half hour saw a lot of singing and dancing, but after that there was more focus on the story and the characters, and Emma Stone gives a spell-binding performance.

Do head out to Harwich and book tickets for a show at this amazing little cinema in historic Old Harwich.