ARCHITECTS drawing up designs for a major refurbishment of the Electric Palace have urged the community to support a fundraising campaign.

A £700,000 project is in the pipeline for the grade two star listed building in King’s Quay Street, Harwich, which hinges on a heritage lottery grant.

But the Electric Palace Trust is also striving to raise £60,000 itself towards the works.

If both bids are successful the 105-year-old building will have a renovated ceiling, new seating, new internal decoration and a refurbishment of the exterior.

Nicholas Jacob Architects, Ipswich, experts in conservation, have been tasked with planning the work.

Shaun Soanes, the architectural lead on the project, said: “This is an incredibly important building with a rich history.

“I’ve been looking after the Electric Palace for about 15 or 20 years.

“We have been part of various works to the building over the years including repairing rusted ironworks under the flooring.

“It’s very unusual to be doing something like this.

“We work on lots of wonderful buildings but the palace is particularly unique.”

A huge part of the planned work is secure the original plaster on the ceiling, which is beyond its average lifespan.

Mr Soanes added: “In terms of the building works the most significant is the ceiling, after the disaster of the Apollo theatre in London when the ceiling collapsed.

“At the Electric Palace there is no space above the ceiling - what we are doing is taking off the roof and putting a laminate to the back of it to reinforce it and make sure its held in place.

“We are also looking at improvements to the stage and seating area and lighting, making sure whatever is done is stylistically appropriate.

“The trust members are wonderful custodians of the building and its great the Standard is backing the funding campaign, they need all the help they can get.

“They have a huge following and need the community to support them.”

The palace, one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the country, opened in November 1911 and was the brainchild of Charles Thurston, a travelling showman.

The Electric Palace enjoyed success throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but the post-war world, the floods of 1953 and the evolution of television saw the demise of the cinema.

In 1956, it closed and soon fell into disrepair, becoming derelict until 1972, when it was rediscovered in a town study by Gordon Miller and the students of Kingston Polytechnic.

At the time, the council had planned to demolish all the buildings in the area and build a lorry park instead.

Detailed survey drawings and original pictures from Mr Miller show the cinema in a neglected state, with cracked facades, peeling paint and gaping holes in the roof.

In 1975 the Electric Palace Trust was formed to restore the cinema and it reopened in 1981.

The new work will be the first time the palace has been redecorated since.

If funding is approved work can begin in spring next year.

To donate to the appeal for funds, use sort code 40-19-43 and account number 81379224 and reference HEPT Roof Appeal.

The next fundraising event for the appeal will be on June 4 with a screening of A Quiet Passion, the life story of American poet Emily Dickenson, followed by a question and answer session with writer and director Terance Davies.