Rolling back years to reveal Inn site’s past

Easrbourne Town Centre. Former Co-op store jct Terminus Road and Trinity Trees.

Easrbourne Town Centre. Former Co-op store jct Terminus Road and Trinity Trees.

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Come from the seafront along Terminus Road, and just before you come to the TJ Hughes traffic lights on the left there is a new hotel being converted from the old Co-op haberdashery store.

But did you know the history of this site? Coming from the seafront, on the left, before the 1920s there was a row of tall ash trees, and behind this screen was the Sussex Club for gentlemen.

That was demolished, and the terrace of shops and apartments was erected instead.

This section of road was called Victoria Place, and Victoria House is still named above the doorway to Qualisea. Until July 1938 the last building on the left, on the corner site, was an indoor riding school.

It was not a particularly viable proposition, so the News Cinema was created. That was to be a short-lived experiment lasting only four months, when it was replaced by showing feature films. WW2 came and the cinema was closed throughout. It was renamed the Classic Repertory Cinema when it reopened in May 1945, seating 420 patrons in the stalls only auditorium. The ceremony was performed by the Mayor, Alderman Miss Hudson.

The evening performance was attended by a detachment of Anzacs and many prisoners of war for the showing of Pride and Prejudice. Prices for tickets were 1/9d and 2/9d.

In the 1960s they showed the 1933 film Queen Christina starring Greta Garbo.

The projectionist forgot to show a 20 minute reel in the middle, and the manageress couldn’t understand why it ended so early. 1965 saw the cinema close with the prophetically named film The Finest Hours.

It then became an extension of Clark and Lambert’s garage as a car showroom.The stage and curtains being left intact to enable the cars to be shown to their best advantage.

A lot of people remember it as the Co-Op haberdashery department store.It was open on ground and first floors, closing only a few years ago.

Now it is a Premier Inn hotel, with a new facade that looks like it has come straight from an East German housing block. The back of the building has been completely demolished to facilitate the 63-bedroom establishment.

Harry Pope is a licensed sight-seeing guide. For more information see www.harrythewalker.co.uk or 734107.