ONE of Britain's oldest surviving purpose-built cinemas will be preserved for years to come after scooping a huge £653,000 lottery grant.

In 2016 the Harwich Electric Palace Trust announced ambitious plans for a £750,000 restoration project.

The money is needed to fund major works at the 106-year-old cinema in Kings Quay Street.

The project will undertake essential conservation work to strengthen the ceiling of this iconic early cinema, redecorate the auditorium, refurbish the seats and toilets, replace electrical switchgear, enlarge the stage and enhance security.

It will be the first time the cinema has been redecorated since it was saved from demolition in 1972, restored and then reopened in 1981.

Trust chairman David Looser said: “We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players.

"This will enable us not only to do the work necessary to keep the Electric Palace operating for the foreseeable future but also to expand our range of activities.”

The palace trust announced the Heritage Lottery Fund grant this week, which follows £51,000 from the same fund last January.

But the trust's own appeal, supported by The Standard, to raise £60,000 towards the work needed is still ongoing.

Chris Strachan, Electric Palace Trust trustee, said: "There is an expectation we will provide our own funds that amount to ten per cent of that sum.

"We have had some very nice donations recently.

"The films and live streaming projects have been doing really well.W Mr Strachan said, although exact figures haven't been calculated, more than £50,000 has been raised.

The restoration work is set to begin in May and take about 9 months to complete.

It will involve dismantling and replastering the auditorium’s ceiling to prevent the possibility of it collapsing and will men the cinema will have to close to the public.

But the lottery grant will also help fund the re-creation of an Edwardian bioscope - a travelling cinema show at fairgrounds.

The bioscope will be based on a photograph of one operated by Charles Thurston, the creator of the Electric Palace.

It will be put up on Harwich Green and run during this year's Harwich Festival, which runs from June 21 to July 1.

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