Rye Electric Palace

There has been much interest caused by Brian Hargreaves drawing of the Rye Electric Palace reproduced in the centre pages of last months magazine. The article on the bus services of Rye in the 1920’s and 30’s has also aroused interest.

Coincidentally the picture above has just arrived at our offices and combines the two interests as the bus has crashed into the building adjoining the Electric Palace .Bus Takes in a Movie

To date the picture is difficult but as the bus is not one of the East Kent vehicles that Laurie Cooksey mentions in his article it seems that it must be earlier than 1930, the headwear of the young lady in the picture seems to be that of the mid-twenties period. The number of the vehicle involved in the crash is FN 4336, perhaps Laurie or one of our readers can tell us more.

The uniformed gentleman talking to the chap with a walking stick, is the commissar for the Electric Palace.

The cinema itself, which can be seen under construction in the picture on the right, was opened in 1910. Builders in those days did not have to conform to our modern safety regulations, no scaffolding or safety nets for them, they were climbers as well as builders.Bus 2

What an eye opener it must have been for the people of Rye when the Electric Palace opened its doors for the first time. Moving pictures with no sound save for the attempts by the pianist to match music with the action of the film. The amazing sights and actions from around the world flickered across the silver screen amidst astonished gasps from the audience. In later years as the film industry progressed the little cinema in Landgate featured the silent screen stars in all their glory. There were captions until 1929 when the first sound film, “The Jolson Story”, came to town and a tiny segment, of just a few minutes, issued forth with sound, a couple of words and a song. The Electric Palace soon screened sound movies only and a new era of success began for the ‘Flea Pit’ as it was affectionately known to Ryers.

The great sound days of the Electric Palace lasted until the new Regent Cinema was built in Cinque Ports Street.Bus3

The photograph of the Rye Electric Palace, along with the two on the previous page, were kindly loaned by Frank Palmer. It is interesting to see the reassuring notices advertised on the front of the building to alleviate the worries of the early public who may have been a little reticent at entering a building that was in virtual darkness most of the time. ‘Fireproof – Well Ventilated – No Steps’. In these days of safety regulations and restrictions it is sobering to know that the Edwardians who built the Electric Palace at such risk to their own lives and limbs kept the safety of the public in mind during the planning and building of the project.

Rye’s Own May 2005

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