The oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK is getting a brand new sound system and projector.
For over a century, the Duke of York’s Picturehouse has been treating the residents of Brighton to the very best film and events, from the latest must-see motion pictures to classics and recently, the best in live theatre, opera and ballet. To celebrate their 105th birthday this September, the cinema will be installing a state-of-the-art sound system and audio-visual projection to invest in an even better film-going experience in the future.
The Duke of York’s is set to close for the week of 7th – 11th September in order to complete these upgrades. The planned improvements will also include some general redecoration.
This refurbishment will guarantee quality, and means the Duke’s will finally have a built-for-sound auditorium, allowing the cinema to screen the very best films in the very best manner.
The Duke of York’s long history reflects the advances and changes in cinema history of the twentieth century.
The cinema first opened on 22nd September 1910, on the site of the former Longhurst’s Amber Ale Brewery. Mrs. Violet Melnotte-Wyatt, the original owner, ensured that the cinema had state-of-the-art facilities for its era, with an electrically-operated projecter. An American organ and an electric piano provided the soundtrack to accompany the silent films that were screened at the time.
Then along came the ‘talkies’. In the 1920s, sound came to the big screen, allowing audiences to hear recorded dialogue and music for the first time ever. Sound facilities were first introduced to the Dukes in 1930. This sound system was then given its first major rehaul in 1937, when the cinema closed for a week for alterations and redecoration.
Over the ensuing decades, many changes were made to the Duke of York’s. These include the arrival of CinemaScope in the 1950s, the introduction of regular bingo nights in the 1960s, and the installation of the now-famous can can dancer legs in 1991. The building was recognised as a Grade II listed building in November 1994, protecting its historic status.
However, the upgrade doesn’t mean that silent films have been totally neglected. On 22nd September, the cinema will be celebrating its 105th birthday with a screening F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, in association with Scalarama, with a live score provided by harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry.
A lot has changed in 105 years, but one thing remains the same: the Duke of York’s is the place to see cinema in Brighton.