the arun cinema (1939-1959)

The Arun Cinema was opened in 1939 by the Duke of Norfolk, seating was provided for 336 in the stalls and 120 in the circle.

The cinema was closed in July 1959. More information.


On July 26 1912, readers of the Littlehampton Observer were informed that Charles Letchford Shepherd of Maxwell Road, Littlehampton, was planning to open a picture palace in the Borough of Arundel. This would be his third venture in the cinema business,  as he had opened the Electric Picture Palace in Littlehampton in May 1911, followed by another picture house in Bridport, Dorset, in February 1912.

On 8 July 1912, C.L. Shepherd applied for a cinematograph licence, and on 22 July The Electric Picture Place opened, located on Queen St, opposite where the Arun Cinema would be situated almost 27 years later. 

At first, films of local events were shown, such as of the annual Regatta, held on the River Arun. but soon productions starring Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Senior were screened.

However, after the outbreak of the First World War, the cinema trade as a whole found it difficult to source films to exhibit, and according to local records, by 1918 the yearly licence had not been renewed.

The only other film venue soon after was The Blue Flash Cinema Company, formed in Horsham by Royal Sussex officer Captain R.C.G. Middleton, who took out a 12 month licence on 13 November 1922 for the Drill Hall in London Road, Arundel, with a seating capacity of 200. Screenings were only on Wednesdays, and one year later the licence was not renewed.

Since the closure of the Arun cinema in 1959, Arundel has had many film screenings, in venues such as the town hall, the museum and recently in the Victoria Institute. Information to follow, on what was shown and when.

The information above, covering 1912-1923, is sourced from the excellent 1995 reference book, Cinema West Sussex - The First One Hundred Years.