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'Unprecedented scenes' in Haywards Heath as The Perrymount Cinema opens in style

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

THE MID SUSSEX TIMES - Tuesday 30 October 1934


Inclusion of Dance Hall and Restaurant

Patrons of the Broadway Cinema, Haywards Heath, have recently been highly interested in a model, in the vestibule, of the new cinema, dance hall and restaurant which is to be erected in the near future at Commercial Square, Haywards Heath.

The proprietors are the Mid-Sussex Cinemas Ltd.--the Company owning the Broadway Cinema and the Heath Theatre. The name of the new building will be the Perrymount Cinema. “We like to keep to local names,” said Mr. J. Van Koert, the popular Managing Director, to a Mid- Sussex Times representative the other evening.

“Owing to various delays”, continued Mr. Van Koert, “such as getting the plans passed, arriving at satisfactory negotiations with adjoining property owners, and the passing of Mr. C. G. Van Koert, the Chairman of the Company, the building scheme had to be postponed for a year. Everything has now been satisfactorily settled and the necessary contracts placed.

The ground has been prepared for the erection of the building, and work will shortly start in earnest. The dance hall and restaurant are due to open in May, and the cinema in August. Every modern comfort will be provided, and the seating accommodation, decoration and general atmosphere will be of the same high standard as the Broadway Cinema.

As with the “Broadway”, everything will be of British manufacture, and the same air of refinement and good taste will predominate. The main vestibule will be approached through doors of simple design, and will possess artistic lighting effects. Leading up from the vestibule will be the dance hall, which will accommodate some 400 people. The dance hall's main decorative treatment will be adapted from the mediaeval style, the basis of which will be large panels of tapestries surrounded by stonework. A three-colour lighting system and various other unique effects will be so employed that the whole of the colour tone can be completely changed. The decorative treatment has been studied with this end in view.

FIRST-CLASS DANCE BANDS will be engaged. The restaurant will be very comfortable, and high-class catering and excellent service will be obtainable at popular prices. The cinema will situated at the rear of the dance hall. The decorative scheme of the cinema will be adapted on Greek lines. The auditorium will consist of what is known as the Stadium type, with the back portion so raised as to give patrons at the back the impression that they are sitting in a balcony. The proscenium opening will be 40ft. wide. This is as wide as the total width, and the cinema itself roughly twice the size of the Broadway Cinema. A series of columns will on each side of the proscenium, the effect aimed at being on the style of a Grecian temple.

Behind each of the columns will be concealed lighting, illuminating the fresco background. The footlights and battens will be of three colour system, so that the curtains may be illuminated in several varying shades. For the seating, old gold has been chosen, and this colour will more or less predominate the theatre throughout. The film projection will be from the front of the theatre, and to ensure safety the operating box will be placed outside the building. The latest films will screened, and the full-size stage will be capable of taking any play.

The Management hope to present a pantomime at Christmas time. “The Haywards Heath Picture Theatre is somewhat out of date, and rather than spend money on renovations, we have decided to build a new theatre.” By this enterprise Haywards Heath will be more than adequately catered for for years to come in the matter of entertainment, and there are few towns of similar size that will be able to boast of two such beautiful buildings and ample provision for modern popular entertainment.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 02 June 1936



The latest addition to the entertainment amenities of Haywards Heath is “The Perrymount” which was opened amid scenes of enthusiasm on Saturday evening. Situated at the station end of Perrymount Road —from which it takes its name—the building, which has been put up by Mid-Sussex Cinemas Ltd., is a complete innovation as far as Mid-Sussex is concerned, for it combines a Cinema with a dance hall and cafe restaurant. If anything were needed to emphasise the growing importance of Haywards Heath, it is forthcoming in this venture, which would never have been contemplated a few years ago.

The thing that strikes one as soon as one enters the spacious vestibule, with its striking architectural strip lighting, is the dignity and simplicity of the design. This impression is deepened when one gets inside and sees the sweeping lines and the artistic colour scheme of this most modern of buildings. There is nothing pretentious or jarring; everything is subdued and restful. The walls are decorated with plastic paint of delicate hues ; all the lighting is concealed, so that there is not a lamp visible ; and the woodwork is of oak.

The Cinema is built on the stadium principle—a modern idea borrowed from America. It has all the advantages which a balcony gives, without having its disadvantages. The floor is raked that everybody can get an uninterrupted view of the screen. The seats, all of the same pattern, are of an attractive tone of brick-red, with black rubber arm pads—one of the latest styles. At the sides of the proscenium, which is oval and very simply treated in gold, are columns supporting huge blocks, from each of which is projected concealed lighting.


The stage draperies are of champagne satin, while the plush curtains are a rich orange colour. Amber flood lights in the ceiling give beautiful rising-sun effect. There is accommodation for nearly 1,000 people. Up-to-date air-conditioning plant washes the air and forces it into the building under pressure, and to ensure that there should be no question of the cinema being anything but warm in the winter, steam-heated radiators have also been installed.

Two Petter oil engines—one acting as a stand-by, to obviate the possibility of complete breakdown, generate electricity for the lighting, and the projectors and sound equipment are of the latest type. The full-sized stage, equipped with scenery loft and dressing rooms, makes it possible to give stage presentations of any description from time to time. It should be pointed out that, being independently owned, the cinema is not tied to any particular form of renters, that the Management are able to make a free selection of the world’s films.

Decorated green and gold, with a luxurious pile carpet, the cafe-restaurant is a charming place. Alongside it is the dance hall, similarly decorated, which has tables, chairs and settees arranged round the large dance floor, and which will accommodate several hundred people. There, concealed lighting, with a range of colours which can be changed while, dancing is in progress, the effect being similar to that obtained round the proscenium at the Broadway Cinema. The kitchen is equipped to give the best and most prompt service.

Parties up to 70 can be dealt with, and social menus for dinners and similar functions will be prepared by arrangement. There is an experienced chef and an excellent staff. Tables can be booked in the restaurant in advance. The building has been erected by the same firm which was responsible for the Broadway Cinema —that of Messrs. John H. Hackman Ltd. Mr. F. T. Hackman supervised the operations. The outside elevation of the premises has been carefully studied so as not to clash with the existing priorities in the neighbourhood. Now that The Perrymount is open, the Heath Cinema, which was opened nearly 20 years ago and was acquired by Mr. J. Van Koert, now the Managing Director of Mid-Sussex Cinemas Ltd., some 16 years back, has been closed.


were witnessed at the opening of The Perrymount on Saturday. In the early evening a large company, including many prominent residents in the district, attended a reception given by the Directors in the cafe-restaurant and dance hall. The decorative effect of the two compartments, which were thrown into one for the occasion, was generally admired, and as couples in evening dress glided over the fine dance floor to the strains of Jack Ellis’s Band, while others sat round drinking cocktails, the proceedings took on a very animated air. Later the party adjourned to the cinema. The general public were then admitted, and there was a rush for the vacant seats, the building being packed by the time the stage curtains were drawn aside.

Mr. S. Youles (Mr. Van Koert’s co-Director) took the chair for the formal opening, and supporting him were Mrs. Youles, Mr. and Mrs. Van Koert , Mr. C. H. S. Ellis, J.P., C.A., and Mrs. Ellis, Mr. H. Edgar German (Vice- Chairman of the Cuckfield Urban District Council) and Miss German, and Mr. and Mrs. Hackman. A bouquet was presented to Mrs. Van Koert by Miss Hackman, and the other ladies were handed bouquets by Miss Van Koert. The Chairman commented their good fortune in getting Mr. Ellis and Mr. German to take part in the ceremony, and expressed gratitude to all who had helped to get the place ready time. Mr. Ellis said they were there to wish prosperity and success to new enterprise which should bring a good deal of entertainment and pleasure to the people in that district. It offered them three things food, dancing and pictures. Food was the oldest necessity that man knew ; dancing was the oldest form of expressing his emotions; and living pictures were an infant prodigy that was admired by millions of people. Speaking of


Mr, Ellis remarked that he was no prophet, but surely they could visualise the day when coloured stereoscopic pictures would be universal! A nation gets the Government it deserves, and the public here will get the pictures it deserves,” the speaker observed, as he exhorted his audience to support good films shown there. Personally, he concluded, he was very pleased to be there to wish Mr. Van Koert good luck. (Applause). He had stood on Mr. Van Koert’s stage, thanks to this gentleman's hospitality, on many occasions and spoken on behalf of good causes, and for that he once more said Thank you." He wished Mr. Van Koert the best luck in his new project. (Applause).

Mr. German said that, in the absence of Mr. J. N. Carter, J.P., the Chairman of the Urban District Council, he wished to thank Mr. Van Koert for the invitation to take part in those proceedings. "I think Haywards Heath can feel very proud to-day,” he remarked, ” for we have now two of the finest cinemas, for the size of the town, in the whole of the country. Mr. Van Koert has done a big thing, for he has provided a hall which I feel it is partly the duty of the Council to provide."

He added that, as a Councillor, he liked to see buildings of that type go up, as it brought in more rates. (Laughter). He stressed that, as the cinema was not run by combine, Mr. Van Koert could book whatever films he wanted to, which was bound to be to the benefit of picture-goers. He declared that an entertainment centre like that was a great asset to the whole of the district, as it induced people to spend their money locally. Mr. German also thanked Mr. Van Koert for the ready way in which he always came forward to assist local efforts for charity.


expressed his gratitude to Mr. Ellis and Mr. German for their good wishes. He observed that the enterprise was a great speculation, but, after experiencing the wonderful way in which they had supported his last venture, “The Broadway”, he thought he could rely upon them for their support in this case. (Applause). ” This building, like ‘The Broadway,’ “ he stated, ” is dedicated to the service of Haywards Heath, and if in any way it can be used to benefit the district or its charities, you will always be welcome to it.” (Renewed applause).

A splendid programme of films was then presented. The chief feature was “Come Out of the Pantry', a delightful comedy about a lord who becomes a footman, starring popular Jack Buchanan, Stranded in America, Jack becomes a footman.

He falls in love with his employer’s niece and has a very awkward time preserving the secret of his identity. Of course, his troubles are straightened out before the end, and he wins the hand of the niece—charmingly portrayed by Fay Wray. Jack puts over in grand style two songs entitled “Everything Stops for Tea” and “From One Minute to Another.” There was also shown, by special request,


one of the funniest of the series of farces featuring Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn. Imagine Lynn, a respectable married man, stranded at a country inn with Yvonne Arnaud, one of his former girl friends, with Walls as an old toper married to Lynn’s termagant mother-in-law! You’re right—it’s a scream! (3) This programme is being continued up till Wednesday.

The proceedings concluded with dance, at which success to the new venture was drank. Jack Ellis and his Band again provided the music, and a large company of dancers spent a merry time up till midnight, the occasion having all the aspects of a gala.

From Thursday till Saturday the screen programme will include Paul Lukas and Margot Grahame in “The Three Musketeers,”

an excellent adaptation of Alexander Dumas's famous story, and Robert Allen in ”Guard That Girl.”

The Manager of the Cinema is Mr. L. T. Tester, while Mr. J. A. Bowman is Manager of the restaurant and dance hall.

Located in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. The Perrymount Cinema was built for and opened by the independent Mid-Sussex Cinemas Co. on 30th May 1936 with Jack Buchanan in “Come Out of the Pantry” and Tom Walls in “A Cuckoo in the Nest”. Seating was provided on a stadium plan, with a raised stepped section at the rear of the auditorium. It had a deeply curved proscenium, similar to Radio City Music Hall in New York, USA. The Perrymount Cinema also had a café for the convenience of its patrons and a dance hall located over part of the foyer and adjoining shops.

It was taken over by the Union Cinemas chain in July 1937, and they were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in October 1937. The proscenium was altered in 1955 when the cinema was equipped with CinemaScope when Alan Ladd in “Drumbeat” became the first film to be screen in that process.

The Perrymount Cinema was closed on 11th November 1972 with Clint Eastwood in “Joe Kidd” and “Subterfuge”. There was a local petition which gained 1,000 signatures to keep the building open, but nothing happened. The building stood empty and increasingly derelict for many years, and was demolished in December 1984. By 1996 the site had become a car park for an office block named Sussex House which had been built on part of the site.

(1) For details of the opening film at The Perrymount Cinema see....

(2) 'Everything stops for tea'...

(3) 'A cuckoo in the nest' - full film



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