Lyric Cinema

Barrack Street,
Bridport, DT6

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Previous Names: Electric Palace Cinema

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Lyric Cinema

In Bridport, Dorset, the local press reported in January 1912 that, as soon as alterations were completed and an electric power plant was installed, the Old Artillery Hall (built as the Liberal Hall in 1886) would open as the Electric Palace Cinema.

The opening was on 26th February 1912, with the programme including “Maiden of the Pie Faced Indians”, “Niagara Falls” and “Siege of Calais”. The proprietor was Mr C. Sheppard, whose son Sydney was subsequently involved in cinema management in Bridport for many years.

In the 1920’s an accident occurred with nitrate film stored near the gas engine, and the operator, Billy Ryan, had a lucky escape when fire broke out.

In 1925 a new Electric Palace opened in South Street. The owner, brewery proprietor J. C. Palmer, soon realised that this small town could not support two cinemas, and Sydney Sheppard was persuaded to close the ‘old’ Electric Palace.

However, in 1934 the mobile Hayes Theatre, which toured the area for many years, finally came to rest in Bridport. Messrs Church and Stevenson settled in the old Electric Palace and it reopened, as the Lyric Cinema, on 17th December 1934 with “Footlight Parade”, starring James Cagney and Alice Faye in “George White Scandals”. Stage facilities enabled occasional live shows, a highlight of which was ‘Romance of the Music Hall’ in 1935, with Billy Cotton and his Band headlining, with Nellie Wallace.

The Dorchester Cinema Company, proprietors of the Dorchester Plaza, took over the Lyric Cinema and the ‘new’ Palace Cinema in 1940. The Lyric Cinema continued until the early-1960’s, by which time the management, in an echo of the past, told the local press that “We consider that one cinema in the town is sufficient”. The Lyric Cinema closed on 1st September 1962 with “The Secret Partner”, starring Stewart Granger.

It is not known what uses the building has been put to since then. On my visit, in October 1999, it appeared to be used as a meeting hall.

Contributed by David Simpson

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Biffaskin on October 20, 2023 at 10:24 am

For a good few years the Lyric was the venue of a puppet theatre for children, as well as being used as rehearsal space by the local AmDram Society.

Biffaskin on October 20, 2023 at 10:29 am

It is currently being used as a Live music venue I believe, still using the Lyric name.

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