A BOOK of cinematic history in Harwich has been published to raise funds for a huge refurbishment project.

Author David Cleveland was at the first meeting held to try and save the Electric Palace in Harwich from demolition in the early 70s.

The palace, one of the country's oldest surviving purpose-built cinemas, was renovated and reopened in 1981.

But it now needs a £750,000 project of work to replaster the ceiling and redecorate.

David's new illustrated book Let's Go To The Pictures is being sold to help raise funds towards the work, which is set to start later this month.

It looks at the history of cinemas in Dovercourt and Harwich as well as areas in North Essex including Manningtree and Colchester.

David said: "There is also the technicalities of film – how it arrived at the cinemas and was shown - both in the silent days and when sound came in.

"The book looks briefly at cinemas from the 1930s to the 1950s, and the closure of many of them including the Electric Palace in 1956.

"About 20 years later the palace was discovered by Gordon Miller, an architectural historian, who saved it from demolition, and, with local enthusiasts, set in motion a plan to restore the cinema and re-open it.

"The palace opened its doors again in 1981, and still operates as a commercial cinema today, though staffed and run by volunteers."

The book has been put together with the help of Amy Amos, who with her late husband helped with the original restoration work, and along with his collection of local photographs as well as help from David Looser of the Harwich Electric Palace Trust.

Let’s Go To The Pictures costs £5 and is available from Townsends in Manningtree, Accent Stationers in Dovercourt, Red Lion Bookshop in Colchester, and from the Electric Palace Cinema in Harwich.

Work at the Electric Palace is expected to last about six months and see the cinema close.

In its wake a Bioscope Tent will be put up on Harwich Green where the early days of silent film shows will be re-created from June 21, followed by a week of special feature films spanning cinema history.

There will also be short films, talks, and old film of Harwich and Dovercourt.