Hailsham's picture palace

PUBLISHED: 10:42 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:03 20 February 2013

Hailsham's picture palace

Hailsham's picture palace

The Pavilion is a hub of the community as well as a local landmark, discovers Jenny Mark-Bell

Paul Nunney has worked at Hailsham Pavilion cinema for six years. He is the only full-time member of staff, although he has 10 part-time colleagues and nearly 150 volunteers working in a variety of roles including stewards, ushers and box office crew.
This is a hub of the community, he says. The Grade II-listed building is very elaborate, with a classical faade and an elegant interior, but 10 years ago it was completely derelict. The building operated as a cinema from 1921-1965 before becoming a bingo club. The latter closed down in 1985, and the Pavilion languished. It took former Mayor June Bourne and her organisation, Hailsham Old Pavilion Society (HOPS), six years of campaigning before, at the turn of the millennium, enough money had been raised to restore it to its former glory.
The cinema re-opened on 1 February 2000 and now its evocative atmosphere provides a wonderful insight into the Golden Age of cinema.
We try very hard to provide a complete variety of films, says Paul. But we only have one screen so it is very difficult. We like to support smaller British projects, but we are a registered charity and an important part of the community so we need to have a balance to keep everybody happy. The number of screenings depends on the time of year.
During the Easter fortnight we will have something like 40, which is largely due to the hard work of our projection team, says Paul.
We havent gone digital, and preparing the films for projecting takes a lot of man hours. When a film arrives it comes in cans, with about 20-25 minutes worth of film on each. The chief projectionist, John Manser, then has to check the film and very skilfully join the bits of film together. Then he has to add all the trailers and adverts.
Digital is taking over and we are going to lose all of those little skills. The tide has turned and cinemas have to decide whether to fight on or make the change. We have six projectionists and for all of them its a hobby, a passion, but its a dying art.
Tel: 01323 841414

The Pavilion through time

Monday 28th November 1921 the Pavilion opens with a Charlie Chaplin movie, The Kid. The building itself was highly ornamental. The interior paintwork was primrose and pink and decorative wall panels were picked out in gold leaf

During the war years Canadian troops are stationed in the area and the cinema gains a Sunday licence

1965 the cinema closes down

1967 the building is approved for use as a bingo club

1985 the bingo club closes down, and the building lies derelict

1993 former Hailsham Town Mayor June Bourne forms Hailsham Old Pavilion Society (HOPS) to raise money for restoration

1999 HOPS attracts over 800 members and raised almost 100,000 from the community. Grants are received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wealden District Council, East Sussex County Council, Hailsham Town Council, Environment Hailsham and Hailsham Rotary Club. These, and an unexpected donation from the Trustees of the Hailsham Town Bus when they wound up, allows the 500,000 refurbishment to go ahead.

Tuesday 1 February 2000 June Bourne, Chairman of HOPS and Vice- Chairman of Hailsham Pavilion Limited, officially opens the cinema. HOPS remains a fundraising organisation and hosts events throughout the year in the community.

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