Deluxe Cinema

From Historical Hastings
Deluxe Cinema
Full nameDeluxe Leisure Centre
Former namesHippodrome Theatre (1907-1912)
Royal Cinema Deluxe (1912-1965)
Deluxe Bingo (1970-present)
Address2-6 Pelham Place

CapacityTheatre - 1500
Opened30 March 1899
ArchitectErnest Runtz
BuilderPeter Jenkins

The Empire Theatre of Varieties opened on the 30th March 1899 on the site vacated by the Marine Hotel at 2-6 Pelham Place. Designed by Ernest Runtz, a well known Theatre designer and built using 1.25 million bricks by local builder Peter Jenkins.

The outside of the ​building​ was clad with ornate terracotta tiles and topped with two copper clad domes. It also featured a balcony at first floor level. The interior was elaborately decorated with Ivory coloured walls, gilding, satin and velvet upholstery and plush green carpet. The ​building​ could accommodate 1,500 persons.[1]

The theatre was renamed the 'Hippodrome Theatre' in 1907. Just 5 years later in 1912 it was converted into a cinema and renamed again this time as the 'Royal Cinema Deluxe' , it would keep this name (dropping the 'Royal' at some point) until 1965 when the cinema closed and was converted into a Bingo hall. At this point the original interior remained untouched but in 1970 the ​building​s interior was completely gutted and a floor built where the Circle once was. A snooker/pool club and restaurant was established later around 1978[2]. Any trace of its original fittings was burnt or dumped during these conversions. At the same time the entrance and ground floor facade were also destroyed, with an amusement arcade at ground level, and Orange chipboard constructed over the terracotta tiles and an plastic canopy installed.[1]

Description of Theatre at time of Opening

The following description of the theatre appeared in "The Stage" of 30th March 1899:-

HASTINGS EMPIRE. DESCRIPTION OF THE HOUSE. A few remarks and a short description of the above building, to be declared open by the Mayor to-day (Thursday), may be of interest. It is mainly due to the enterprise and energy of Mr. John Brill, whose name is so well known in the town, that the present roomy structure owes its existence. He it was who conceived the idea of having... what has long been wanted in Hastings, Viz., a good theatre of varieties not only for the benefit of the residents of the town, but the floating population to whom its prosperity is largely due, and it was only right and fitting, therefore, that Hastings should be to the front with one of the most up-to-date theatres, bearing in mind its importance, and the fact that all other seaside resorts of any standing are supplied in this direction. The task has been one not lightly to be undertaken, but Mr. Brill attacked it in his usual business like way and liberal spirit, and in combination with Mr. J. L. Graydon and other gentlemen, has been the means of erecting the building. Mr. Brill and his syndicate desired to employ, so far as practicable, local labour in connection with this building, and the contract was placed for the general structure in the competent hands of Mr. Peter Jenkins, and the result is in every way a credit to him, and well bears out his reputation as one of the leading contractors on the south coast. The site of the hall is that of the Marine Hotel and two houses on the west side in Pelham Place, and covers a superficial area of 7,860ft. It has a very fine frontage to the Marine Parade of 131ft. The building is practically isolated, portions having been thrown in for use as thorough fares leading from the building. The main approach is from the Marine Parade, through an entrance hall which leads directly into the stalls, whence the circle is reached by a fireproof staircase. The pit entrance is approached from the Marine Parade by a spacious right of way on the west side of the theatre, and the gallery entrance is at the end of this right of way. The pit has an emergency exit directly into an open passage way on the north side of the building, In here are saloons both for pit and stalls, and ample lavatory accommodation has been particularly provided for. The accommodation in the stalls is for seating 223 persons, and in the pit 176 persons, and the gang ways for both parts are thoroughly in accordance with modern relations. The grand circle is approached by a stone stair case, 5ft. 6in. wide, landing at the south west corner of the building is another fire proof staircase for use in case of emergency, leading directly into the before-mentioned right of way. In connection with this circle there is a foyer overlooking the sea, provided with four largo windows, leading on to a balcony, aloft, above the level of the pavement, This is not only an advantage for the ventilation of the building in hot weather, but is also an element of safety in case of fire. Balconies, not only in England, but all over the Continent, are much favoured in public buildings for this reason. In the rear of the circle a saloon is provided for the accommodation of visitors, raised 4ft. 6in. above the back gangway of the circle so that the stage can be seen there from. The lavatory accommodation is also complete in every respect. Accommodation is provided in this part of the house for 201 persons. The main approach to the second tier has been already mentioned, and it has a fireproof exit directly on to the Marine Parade. It is connected with an open loggia, over the foyer, for use in the summer months. This also is an excellent natural means of ventilating the house, and the remarks applying to the balcony on the grand circle level are equally applicable lo this loggia. Accommodation is provided for 395 persons. The stage is constructed in accordance with modern methods, and the dressing accommodation, together with the sanitary accommodation, is complete. As regards lighting and heating, the electric light is installed throughout the building, having gas as a supplementary illuminant. The heating will be on the low-pressure system by means of radiators, and immediately in the rear over the gallery the roof is to be made movable to assist in the ventilation of the building. The hall is constructed of bricks, faced with terra cotta. The respective tiers are constructed of iron and concrete, and the roof is principally of iron. Generally the scheme of colour adopted throughout has been a rich terra cotta rod and old-gold treatment for the walls, the box, and circle fronts, and also the ceiling being judiciously gilded with an ivory-white ground. The draperies and upholstery are executed respectively in amber satin and velvet, and the Wilton pile carpeting throughout is of neutral green. The act-drop has been painted by that well-known scenic artist, Mr. W. T. Hemsley. to harmonise with the draperies. One of the features of the decorative scheme is the noble three-centred coffered arch springing from the boxes, and forming not only a decorative but a constructional feature of the theatre. It is richly coffered and decorated, and should prove of great value in assisting the acoustic properties of the building. Over the proscenium opening is another striking feature of the decorative treatment. Here the architect has had the valued assistance of Mr. Charles Buchel, who has recently so successfully provided the Crown, Peckham, and the Empire Palace of Varieties, Middlesbrough, with painted friezes of great merit. The frieze under notice gives an allegorical treatment of the Rising of Venus from the Waters. Semicircular decorative panels over the boxes represent the seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The whole of the scenery has been carefully selected and executed by Mr. W. T. Hemsley, and will be found to excel in many respects many of the London variety theatres indeed, no expense has been spared to give Hastings a place of entertainment worthy of the town and its traditions[3]."

The first performance at the theatre took place the following Saturday (1st April 1899) with Marie Lloyd topping the bill[4].

Name changes by date

From To
Number of Seats
Empire Theatre of Varieties
1907 1500
Hippodrome Theatre

(Royal) Cinema Deluxe

Deluxe Snooker and Bingo


References & Notes

  1. a b Leigh Kennedy Historical Hastings (Facebook)
  2. Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/FA/77/00572
  3. British Newspaper Archive [1]]Not Found please add periodical to the BNA/Data page 30 March 1899 Pg. 0016]
  4. British Newspaper Archive [2]]Not Found please add periodical to the BNA/Data page 6 April 1899 Pg. 0018]