• TTDA - Aldeburgh Cinema - Exterior at Night
  • TTDA - Aldeburgh Cinema - Auditorium

Aldeburgh Cinema Celebrates 100 years!

Aldeburgh Cinema is very proud to announce that it is 100 years old – one of the oldest independent cinemas in Britain to have been screening films continuously for a century.

Join broadcaster Bill Turnbull at the cinema for a special event on Friday, 17th May at midday, as he interviews the stalwarts who have helped Aldeburgh Cinema remain a vital part of life in the town.  On stage with Bill will be Susan Harrison who worked there for more than half a century,  Felicity Ann Sieghart, Chair and Managing Director 1994-2003, and Sally Irvine, former Trustee and author of A Story of Heroes celebrating 100 years of screening films in Aldeburgh. 

There will be fizz courtesy of Adnams, and canapés generously donated by our neighbours at The Lighthouse Restaurant.

Over the past century, it has often been a struggle to keep the cinema open, and it is thanks to the determined help of many of Aldeburgh’s residents - such as Benjamin Britten - that it is still here today. In recent years, the cinema has managed to break even, and now we want to secure its future for the next 100 years.

As part of the centenary celebrations, there are plans to raise funds to install a purpose-built second screen, to improve the fabric and facilities of the building, and to enable the cinema to extend its education and community work. 

Diana Quick, actress and longest serving Trustee says:

“It is a wonderful achievement that Aldeburgh Cinema has been showing films for 100 years in our beautiful seaside town.  I have had the pleasure of being on the Board of Trustees for the last 11 years.  Please do visit Aldeburgh Cinema for a unique cinematic experience.”

100 years of Aldeburgh Cinema

1919 - Walter Hill,
draper and gentlemen’s outfitter, commissions Aldeburgh builder W.C.Reade to
build an auditorium and The Aldeburgh Picture House opens in the summer of
1919. 

January
1921 - 
Aldeburgh
Cinema and Amusements (ACA) is born – the Cinema and Jubilee Hall join forces
under new joint management. In the 1920s the price of seats for adults is 1
shilling and sixpence.

1924 - The ACA tries to
lease Leiston Cinema, but the approach is declined.        

1924 - 1965 - The
Cinema is under the management of Raymond
Rayner, who lives with his wife in the flat above the Cinema. At first, he
leases the cinema, then in 1951 buys
it from ACA.

1942 - Four bombs fall
close to Aldeburgh Cinema, killing civilians and soldiers, but the Cinema
survives unscathed, and stays open throughout World War II.

1965 - Stephen Reiss, wartime
intelligence officer, distinguished art historian and manager of Aldeburgh
Festival, persuades Benjamin Britten and
his partner Peter Pears to join
others in forming a consortium to buy the Cinema after Raymond’s death.  Stephen
Reiss is engaged to choose the films. Benjamin
Britten pledges money and support to keep Aldeburgh Cinema at the heart of
the town. Lord and Lady Cranbrook, David and Letty Gifford also become
shareholders.

1971 - Stephen Reiss resigns,
and the Cinema struggles on with mounting debts under temporary management.

1974 - 1995 - Letty Gifford, Mayor of Aldeburgh, staunch pioneer of women’s rights, co-founder
of the Jubilee Opera, and friend of Benjamin
Britten and Peter Pears, agrees
to become Chair of Aldeburgh Cinema and is its backbone for the next twenty
years. The Cinema becomes a hub of artistic life in the town. Letty makes a name for herself in the
film world by tackling distributors in London, and demanding that popular films
are shown in Aldeburgh as early as – or even before - the top London venues.  She creates the Supporters Club, now known as
the Friends of Aldeburgh Cinema, where people pledge financial backing. The annual
Cinema audience increases to 32,489 – up by more than 10,000 in four years.

1961 - 2015 - Susan Harrison is a full and part-time member of staff whose talent at involving
many in the town in the smooth running of the cinema is legendary.  Her outstanding service to the Cinema is
recognized in 2012 with the award of a British Empire Medal.

1964 - 2016 - Neville Parry is Chief Projectionist, despite also holding down a job in the East
Suffolk Ambulance Service. A talented engineer and innovator, he keeps the
projection equipment in excellent order, and works part-time until his death in
2016.

1994 - 2003 - Felicity Ann Sieghart takes over the running of the Cinema. She modernises the box office,
improves the Cinema’s finances, and initiates the celebrated Aldeburgh Cinema Documentary Festival.

1995 - present -Together with her
documentary-maker daughter-in-law Molly
Dineen, Felicity Ann Sieghart launches
DocFest, hosted by writer Craig Brown. He is at the helm for the
next 15 years. Actress and local resident Diana
Quick takes over in 2010, and in 2017 film executive Jill Green becomes the festival’s Artistic Director. The DocFest
has become an essential and much-loved part of Aldeburgh’s cultural calendar.

2009 - 2016 - Tim Rowan Robinson becomes Chairman of the Cinema, updating its management and
governance.  His work leads to Aldeburgh
Cinema becoming a charity – the Aldeburgh Cinema Trust.

2017 - present - Charlie Laughton-Scott assumes the role of Chairman of the Cinema.

2017 -The Cinema becomes Visitor
Information Centre for Aldeburgh

2018 - Snape Box Office returns as
a tenant.

2019 -The Cinema becomes the box
office for Jubilee Hall.



Things to see and do

Aldeburgh Beach Lookout and Art House

Aldeburgh Beach Lookout and Art House

Aldeburgh

Isolated yet at the heart of cultural innovation, it is a magical and stimulating setting for artists to respond each in their own fascinating way.

Read more >

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

Snape

Tickets are now on sale for Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2018, which is taking place over the weekend of 28th, 29th, and 30th September.

Read more >
Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible

HighTide Festival

HighTide Festival

HighTide Festival is an annual festival of new plays on the gorgeous Suffolk Coast taking place from 10th to 15th September 2019 in Aldeburgh.


Read more >
Wheelchair Accessible

Aldeburgh Cinema

Aldeburgh Cinema

Aldeburgh

2019 is a momentous year for Aldeburgh Cinema, as August 9th is the Centenary of the Cinema's opening.  

Read more >
Free wifi

Events

Alde Valley Spring Festival

Alde Valley Spring Festival

Saxmundham | Sat 27th Apr - Sun 26th May 2019

The Spring Festival Exhibition adopts the theme of “Florabundance : A Celebration of Gardens, Plants and Produce”.

Read more >

WHERE TO EAT

Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop 

Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop

Traditional family run fish and chip shop since 1967, offering Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Scampi and more with chips made from locally sourced potatoes. Located a short walk from the beach to enjoy fish and chips 'The Aldeburgh Way'.

Read more >

Brudenell Seafood & Grill

Brudenell Seafood & Grill

Aldeburgh

The Seafood & Grill restaurant has panoramic sea views from every table with a décor that is inspired by the vibrant colours that can be found on the Suffolk coast throughout the year.

Read more >
Free wifi Wheelchair Accessible

where to stay

Alde Garden

Alde Garden

A tiny site with an eclectic range of quirky and unusual accommodation, set in the garden of an award winning pub

Read more >
Free wifi

The Dolphin Inn

The Dolphin Inn

The Dolphin Inn is perfectly situated in the beautiful village of Thorpeness, a stone's throw away from the beach, meare and bustling town of Aldeburgh.

Read more >
Dog friendly

The White Lion

The White Lion

Aldeburgh

The White Lion Hotel is a contemporary coastal town hotel with views, character and two fantastic restaurants on the Suffolk Coast on the beachfront in Aldeburgh. 

Read more >
Free wifi Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible

Five Acre Barn

Five Acre Barn

Just a short walk from the beautiful Suffolk coastline and the seaside towns of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness.

Read more >
Free wifi Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible