Opened in September 1910

Duke of York's cinema
Photo by Tony Mould
Duke of York's Cinema
Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

Formally opened by the mayor, Charles Thomas-Stanford, on 22 September 1910, the ‘Duke’s’ was built on part of the site of the Amber Ale Brewery for Mrs Violet Melnotte-Wyatt, the lessor and later manager of the Duke of York’s Theatre in London. Designed by theatre architect C.E.Clayton, the new cinema seated 800 and was considered very luxurious with Wilton carpets, tip-up seats, electric fans and an electric projector. Sound equipment was installed in May 1930, and the whole building was redecorated in June 1937. Following a brief period of wrestling bouts and bingo in the 1970s, the Duke’s took over the mantle of the Brighton Film Theatre in 1979 by presenting a varied programme of ‘art’ and ‘cult’ films. The building itself, one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas in the country, retains a largely unaltered, decorated facade in Edwardian baroque style, but once had two small domes at the corners of the roof surmounted by flag poles. Behind the fire station the cinema may be seen to have incorporated part of the old brewery’s flint malting.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.
The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above: {68,68a,286}

Comments about this page

  • The thing I rememeber about the ‘Dukes’ was when you paid to go in you were given a metal disc with a hole in it instead of a ticket.

    By Roy Dibley (03/12/2009)
  • I do not recall the Bingo here, but I’m pretty sure I saw ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at The Duke Of York. Was that really after 1979?

    By Joe Reid (07/01/2010)
  • While living in Viaduct Road in 19487/51, my mother at some time was an usherette at the Duke of Yorks Cinema. I used to see films in the afternoons during school holidays! I particularly remember one tear jerking one called No Room at the Inn.

    By Jennifer Price (31/08/2014)
  • I see from Tony’s modern photo of ‘the York’s’ that the cheeky high heeled legs have been carefully turned up-side-down and re-directed to the top of the building. Does anyone have any stories to tell about this change?

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (01/09/2014)
  • Great days at the Dukes for years.  I was trying to remember the name of the old boy who worked there – Old Tom? I was at an x rated film one day and it got to a very scary bit in the film and everyone was on a knife edge. Tom came down the aisle shooing a cat -  he was never blessed with looks. The screen lit his face, I think he had slightly bossed eyes. It’s  something I have never forgot. The ‘Dukes’ was also a target after a visit to the blind man’s stall in the open market for the stink bombs.  There was also a very attractive lady in the sweet counter with dark hair and a beauty spot on the cheek – very 1960s.

    By Ken Mcneill (01/09/2014)
  • What is the story behind ‘The Legs’?

    By Suzie S (02/09/2014)

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