Kevin Markwick, owner of The Picture House, Uckfield, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the cinema. Picture: Wayne de Strete of www.eventpaparazzi.co.uk.

Uckfield Picture House holds centenary party

The Picture House in Uckfield celebrated its 100th birthday with a party on Thursday.

It was attended by industry professionals, family and friends and held at The Picture House Restaurant. They were welcomed by cinema owner Kevin Markwick.

All party pictures were taken by Wayne de Strete of www.eventpaparazzi.co.uk.

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The cinmea was closed for the evening to enable everyone to tour the newly refurbished screens and foyer.

The actual birthday of the cinema is December 15 and a history has been compiled of its 100 years.

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Picture House history

Read what has been discovered below:

Plans were approved on May 7, 1915, for the building of The Picture House as owned by a Mrs Measures. However, due to the fact the magistrate owned Foresters Hall, the existing cinema in Uckfield, The Picture House had numerous refusals for a cinematograph licence.

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The Picture House officially opened as a Garrison Theatre on December 15, 1916, and didn’t require any licence as it was being privately used by local troops. Most garrison theatres put on cine-variety programmes and would have shown films to the troops as well as variety entertainment.

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In August 1920 The Picture House, then owned by Mr Proctor who also owned Foresters Hall, finally got a cinematograph licence and opened to the public with The Eternal City on Monday, August 16.  The Picture House has remained a full-time cinema ever since.

Proctor sold his lease to William Harper around 1923.

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The final silent movie was a free Mother and Baby presentation on behalf of Nestlé in July 1931 and the first talkie was Atlantic, which opened on Monday, July 27, 1931. This film was originally made as Titanic and followed the story of the Titanic throughout with the exception that the sinking scene was cut and the boat in the film renamed Atlantic.

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The changes occurred because of a potential law suit and so as not to cause offence to survivors of the Titanic disaster.

Mr PV Reynolds took over in 1936 and he saw the installation of CinemaScope. Mr Reynolds died in Mid November 1963.

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It is said that everyone can remember where they were when they heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination. In the case of Roy Markwick, he was viewing the Picture House with the view of taking over its lease.

Roy Markwick officially took over on February 17, 1964, and later that year it opened on a Sunday for the first time. The Picture House has remained in the Markwick family ever since.

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In January 1979, the single screen closed for twinning after a screening of Death Wish. The new Screen Two opened for business on March 19, 1979, with Every Which Way But Loose.

Sadly Roy Markwick died in 1994 on his 65th birthday and his son Kevin who had literally grown up in the cinema took over.  He built a third screen which opened on February 11, 2000, with The Beach.

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In 2010 all screens were made fully digital and the first Arts on Screen content was included in the cinema’s schedule including, opera, ballet and theatre from around the globe.

In 2014 The Picture House saw refurbishment throughout and also saw the opening of the Picture House Restaurant opposite the cinema.

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The success of the cinema has been attributed to moving with the times.  Introducing two then three screens, going digital and introducing Arts on Screen content in 2010 has been essential to the business.

Arts on Screen content now accounts for 26% of content compared to 3% nationally.

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A Picture House Membership Scheme has been introduced which gives loyal customers a better service, rewarding them with free tickets, plus discounts at both the cinema and restaurant.

Special screenings have also been introduced such as kids Saturday Morning Movies and Baby Friendly screenings.

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Refurbishment has brought the business into the 21st century in terms of what customers expect and this goes further than just the environment by including a selection of kiosk drinks and treats.  Acquiring the restaurant gave a whole new dimension to the business enabling it to provide a complete night out and special film-based events.

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Picture House awards

2015 – Awarded ‘Best Independent Cinema in Europe’ by the Event Cinema Association

2016 – ‘Highly Commended’ at The Screen Awards 2016

2016 – Awarded ‘Restaurant, Hospitality and Leisure Award’ at The Uckfield Business Awards 2016

Here’s to the next 100 years.

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The Picture House earlier this year as the Uckfield Festival parade, with the theme film in honour of the cinema’s special anniversary, passed by.

See also:

Strike to hit Uckfield Line today and tomorrow

Dates fixed for Uckfield Festival 2017

Your chance to make willow sculptures and beaded Christmas decorations

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

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