Historic film house chalks up 100 years

A WEBSITE vault of movie memorabilia has been unveiled to celebrate 100 years of Brighton's most famous film house.

The Duke of York's cinema in Brighton has launched an online virtual museum to commemorate its 100 years of continuous film-screening.

The archive of cinema memorabilia and oral and written memories marks the cult picture house's centenary, and can be seen at www.dukeofyorkscinema.co.uk

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Turning 100 on the September 22, it is the oldest and longest operating cinema in the UK.

The Duke of York's theatre plans to mark the birthday by building a bank of as many visual and verbal memories and mementos as possible from the people who have attended its numerous screenings over the years.

Picture house patrons have already begun to submit their experiences.

Filmgoer Tony Pullinger retold memories of the Duke of York's from his 1950s childhood. "My mother used to work in the Duke of York's in the late 50s, and I used to jump off the number 46 bus from school to see her.

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"I'd go up to the projection room and spend a couple of hours rewinding the reels as they came off the projectors. In fact, I worked full time as a third then second projectionist for a couple of years after I left school.

"One particular memory I have was of a time when we were showing a Marilyn Monroe film - the day she died. Bob Monkhouse was in the audience, and they all watched on, unaware that she had gone."

John O'Hara, of Shoreham-by-Sea, tells how integral the cinema was in courtship with his wife back in the 80s.

He said: "I remember when I was courting my now wife of nearly 30 years, we went in 1979 or 1980 to see a late night triple bill of Zombie films at the Duke."

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Organisers of the Duke of York's community project, which is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and run by Cinecity, are asking fans of the cinema to write a letter to the Duke of York's, telling of their memories in tribute to the historic picture house.

The project is designed to capture as much of the modern times of the cinema as it is the early days.

Nicky Beaumont, manager of Cinecity, says: "We are very excited to hear how the cinema has played a part in the lives of Brighton residents over the years.

"It would be fantastic to make contact with people who went to the first talkies, but we are equally as keen to hear from those who went to our Eurovision screening just last month, or any other recent event. We are hoping to build a picture of how the cinema has kept Brighton entertained across time."

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The Duke of York's officially opened its doors for business on September 22 1910, making it the oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK. At the turn of the century, Brighton led the way in film with early movie pioneers such as Smith & Williamson, and the Duke's has continued to play an important role in Brighton's cultural history over the past 100 years.

More popular than ever, the Duke of York's has seen over 25,000,000 audience members through its doors to date and is one of the top independent arts cinemas in the UK.

The 100th birthday project aims to engage Brightonians old and new in the gathering of oral histories and give local people the opportunity to explore its heritage and build upon their own memories of the film theatre.

For more information, visit www.dukeofyorkscinema.co.uk; contact

[email protected]; or call 01273 641947.