Come from the Eastbourne seafront along Terminus Road, and just before you reach the TJ Hughes traffic lights on the left there is a new hotel being converted from the old Co-Op haberdashery store.
But did you know the history of this site? Walking up from the seafront, on the left, before the 1920s there was a row of tall ash trees, and behind this screen was the Sussex Club for gentlemen. That was demolished, and the terrace of shops and apartments was erected instead. This section of road was called Victoria Place, and Victoria House is still named above the doorway to Qualisea.
Until July 1938 the last building on the left, on the corner site, was an indoor riding school. The owners realised that it was not a particularly viable proposition, and it was realised that something different was required for the site. A News Cinema. That was to be a short lived experiment lasting only four months, when it was replaced by showing feature films.
WW2 came and the cinema was closed throughout. It was renamed the Classic Repertory Cinema when it reopened in May 1945, seating 420 patrons in the stalls only auditorium. The ceremony was performed by the Mayor, Alderman Miss Hudson. The evening performance was attended by a detachment of Anzacs and many prisoners of war for the showing of Pride and Prejudice. Prices were 1/9d and 2/9d.
In the 1960s they showed the 1933 film Queen Christina starring Greta Garbo. The projectionist forget to show a 20 minute reel in the middle, and the manageress couldn’t understand why it ended so early.
1965 saw the cinema close with the prophetically named film The Finest Hours. It then became an extension of Clark and Lambert’s garage as a car showroom, the stage and curtains being left intact to enable the cars to be shown to their best advantage.
A lot of people remember it as the Co-Op haberdashery department store, open on ground and first floors, closing only a few years ago. Now it is a Premier Inn budget hotel, with a new facade that looks as though it has come straight from an East German housing block! The back has been completely demolished, to facilitate the 63 bedroom establishment.
Harry Pope is an Eastbourne sight-seeing guide, more on www.harrythewalker.co.uk. This article appeared in the Eastbourne Herald on 3rd October 2014.