Central Cinema

Princes Street,
Ipswich, IP1 1QU

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Additional Info

Architects: Francis Burdett Ward

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In Ipswich, Suffolk, the Central Cinema opened on Monday 7th February 1915 with the military drama “Defenders of our Empire”. It was designed to the plans of architect Francis B. Ward and built for F.H. Cooper and Company.

In 1929, when the Central Cinema was in the ownership of Eastern Counties Cinemas Ltd., a Western Electric (WE) sound system was installed; the first talkie was “The Broadway Melody”, starring Bessie Love and Anita Page.

By 1935, ownership had passed to Farrer Cinemas Ltd., then, in 1937, to Owen Cooper Theatres.

Then, on the evening of 23rd February 1950, while changing over from “The Dolly Sisters”, starring Betty Grable and John Payne, to the supporting feature, “Call Northside 777”, starring James Stewart, projectionist Mr O. Driscoll saw flames leaping across the roof from a blaze at the adjoining premises of Haddock and Baines. All 300 members of the audience were successfully evacuated (albeit that some were reluctant to leave, according to the manager, Mr J. H. Barker) which was just as well, as the fire spread quickly and the cinema’s roof fell in at about 7pm.

The derelict remains were removed a few years later. There was talk, in 1956, of the cinema being rebuilt, but this never happened, and the site was redeveloped.

Contributed by David Simpson
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