Aldeburgh Cinema has a unique and interesting history, and continues to be a strong element of the town’s community today. One of the oldest cinemas in the country, you can catch films, operas and art exhibitions here and you might even bump into a famous face! Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Tom Hiddleston have all visited this marvellous cinema.
The cinema started life as a high street store built in the nineteenth century. An auditorium was built onto the back of the store in order for Aldeburgh Cinema to be founded in 1919. The cinema was privately run and screened films regularly. It was a popular destination in Aldeburgh for many locals for many years to come.
In the 1960s however, the cinema faced financial difficulties and was threatened with closure. The cinema was saved through the efforts of members of the local community, who came together to refurbish the cinema and organise events. This group was led by Lettie Gifford and there are plaques in the foyer to recognise her contribution for saving the cinema, as well as the walled garden at the back of the building. The group also included composer Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears!
Banding together, the group wanted to run the cinema for the local community and this mission statement has guided the running of the cinema to present day. The Aldeburgh Cinema Club was formed during this time and in 2012 the club had a whopping 1,200 members. This club has been essential to help maintain the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Aldeburgh Cinema.
In 2013, the cinema became a Registered Charity which means Aldeburgh Cinema will continue to be supported as will the cinema’s work towards the benefit of the public and the town of Aldeburgh itself.
Over the years there have been changes to the cinema, such as Quinette seating (the best in the world) and a digital projector, as well as maintaining original features of the cinema including art deco lights. The cinema also houses a working pair of 1940’s 35mm projectors which allows the screening of film-historically important non-digital archive material. In 2016 Aldeburgh Cinema was nominated for the Cinema of the Year Award and acted as the comedy venue for the 2015 High Tide Festival.
An excellent place to catch a movie, or try something new, Aldeburgh Cinema always offers a full and rich programme, delicious confectionary and the most comfortable seats in the world. Be sure to pay a visit next time you’re in Aldeburgh. You won’t regret it!