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Former Assembly Room & Cinema



The Assembly Rooms were built at about the turn of the century. (Date to be ascertained). The building is capable of accommodating about 100 people and hosts concerts, plays, public meetings and school speech days. The owner is R Stanley Ransome and bookings are managed by John Marshall, landlord of the King's Head Inn close by. John Marshall also conducts the catering. He dies in 1908.


R S Ransome opens a cinema in his Assembly Rooms, calling it 'Southwold Electric Picture Palace'. Between shows, the building continues to serve as a venue for local events.


Lily Elizabeth Crick purchases the building from R S Ransome. Mrs Crick has this year sold the King's Head to Adnams Brewery. She and her engineer husband, undertake extensive work on the premises to turn it into a serious cinema, effectively rebuilding it with a substantial extension to the East, set at a 90 degree angle to the old Assembly Rooms structure to accommodate some 400 people. It is now simply called 'The Cinema'.

Thanks to the expertise of her husband, George Crick, who is chief engineer and manager of Southwold Gas Light Company, the new cinema boasts some impressive innovations, notably central heating and insulation. Early advertising stated:

"You'll never be cold in the Winter. You'll never be hot in the Summer. We're fully asbestos-lined"

When it is complete.Lily installs James William Marshall Blythe as Manager. (James is her son by her previous marriage to William Blythe.

See also interesting visitor contribution below.


The first 'talkie' is shown.

A Mirrophone sound system from Western Electrics is installed (BCS)

The Cinema twice suffers bomb damage during the war but survives and continues functioning throughout.

Lily Elizabeth Crick dies in Southwold Hospital


James W M Blythe, Manager, retires through ill health and the Cinema building is sold to (Forename?) Hope-Bell.

The Cinema is sold to (Forename) Burgess and is renamed 'The Ritz'.

The Cinema closes for good this year.

Blyth Depository Ltd - Storage company known as 'Blyth Hazell'


1975 approx
William Denny & Son - Builders (See also No 75 High Street)


Premises demolished and building work is begun on the new GP surgery and Orwell Court flats.

The new surgery building, designed by local architect and artist, Clifford Russell, and built by William Denny & Son, is opened this year. Clifford Russell has spent his entire working life in a wheelchair, having been blown up in a tank in the North Africa Campaign. He is consequently acutely aware of the need to incorporate disabled access facilities in his design.

The initial team of GPs includes Dr Gerald Townsley and Dr Andrew Eastaugh (who have moved from No 47 High Street). Dr Mark Butt and his wife, Dr Sarah Butt and Dr Chris Castle who has moved, with his patients and staff, from his own practice at No 83 High Street.


Late 1990s
Drs Mark & Sarah Butt - move to the Andaman Surgery, Oulton Broad.


Dr John Stammers - joins the surgery this year.

Dr Andrew Eastaugh - retires this year.

GP practice moves out in September to the new Sole Bay Health Centre off Nightingale Lane, Reydon


Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
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BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

York Toad Surgery and Orwell Court Flats

The Surgery is on the left and Orwell Court flats on the right.

The original assembly rooms

The Assembly Rooms prior to 1911
Photo courtesy of Jim Blythe.
Click picture to enlarge

Complimentary cinema season ticket for 1915..
Picure courtesy of David Baker

Click image to enlarge

William Mortlock who worked as a uniformed usher at the Electric Picture Palace before the first war.

Photo courtesy of his nephew, Vincent Robert Mortlock


Cinema advert 1922

advertisement reproduced from the Southwold Golf Club Handbook of 1922, courtesy of Heather Osmer
Click the advert to enlarge

Cinema personnel 1920s.

Back row, l to r: Freddie Neal (organist), James Blythe (Manager), Unknown, Reginald Ife (projectionist), Charlie Crick (Son of George)

Front Row, l to r: Believed to be Mrs Bennett (Cinema pianist) , George Crick, Lily Elizabeth Crick (owner), Believed to be Lily's younger sister, Emaline.

With thanks to Jim Blythe for allowing us to reproduce this photo from his family collection

Click on the image to enlarge

George and Lily Elizabeth Crick probably in the 1930s.
Photo courtesy of Jim Blythe.
Click picture to enlarge


Aerial view of the cinema building probably in the late 1940s

To see a hi-res copy

The Cinema viewed from the High Street during the Coronation celebration in 1953. Anchor Villa is on the right.
Reproduced by permission of Jim Blythe.
To see the full scene, click the picture.

The building when used by Blyth Hazell Ltd
Storage and Removals business .
Southwold Museum P2604
Click the picture to enlarge

The cinema building in about the 1970sThe cinema building probably taken in the 1970s. Note how the turn-of-the-century gable is still recognisable but has lost its mock-Dutch profile. Photo featured in Barrett Jenkins' book 'Bygones and Characters of Southwold.'. Reproduced by kind permission of the author's daughter, Ann Thornton.
Click the image to enlarge

Southwold Cinema in 1981 - proposed redevelopment notice

Notice on the disused cinema building in 1981, announcing the proposed redevelopment of the site to provide a GP surgery and a residential block.

The Southwold Cinema building in 1981

The entrance of the former cinema in 1981

Above: two views of the former cinema building in 1981. With thanks to Heather Osmer.
Click a picture to enlarge