Electric Palace Up For Sale
6:25am 14th August 2014
The Electric Palace Theatre in Bridport is up for sale.
Owner Peter Hitchin has decided to call it a day after running the venue for the last 7 years.
It goes on the market in September with a 550 thousand pound price tag.
Peter, who owns Symondsbury Manor says it's a "lifestyle" business which would benefit from a younger person or company taking it over.
Mr Hitchin said in the meantime it will still be business as usual;
"We have a very full programme lined up, including the Bridport Pantomime Players in February and their show is always very well supported. We also have bookings for weddings and these will not be affected."
Mr Hitchin bought the derelict art deco building in 2005. He stepped in after the former operators, Reel Time Entertainment Ltd, closed the venue in 1999. They maintained the building was unsafe because of concerns over the balcony area.
These issues have now been addressed comprehensively.
"I had a full structural overhaul, which has been completed and signed off, so I hope a local consortium would feel confident to own and manage the Electric Palace," Mr Hitchin said.
"It's a wonderful venue, with real soul and vitality. When my daughter, Gabrielle, was managing the Electric Palace, it was so successful that Ian Gillan of Deep Purple nominated it as the best small venue in the UK.
"We almost won but were beaten by a very hip London venue. I say this because I believe the Palace has increased Bridport's profile in the music and comedy world."
He said he has had interest in the Electric Palace from a number of companies but added: "I'm in no hurry to sell it. I'd like it to continue as it is, with an even more exciting programme of events, if that's possible."
The Electric Palace was purpose-built and opened on June 14 1926 by Bridport Mayor Mr F Weeks. The first show starred Gloria Swanson in Madame Sans-Gene.
The theatre still retains its art deco feel, with a cavernous interior and a unique set of murals painted by local artist George Biles in the 1920s in the foyer.
Under Mr Hitchin's ownership, the Electric Palace now features a covered foyer area, used as a brasserie with free wi-fi, and two bars, one of which is in the auditorium now decorated with original artwork by top local contemporary artists.
Prestigious acts appear at the venue on a regular basis. Over the next few months, the programme includes live screenings of National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare company shows, comedy from Henning Wehn and Al Murray, music by From The Jam with Bruce Foxton, Steve Howe from Yes, Doctor Feelgood and a one-man play by the actor Simon Callow.